Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Power of the Pen

"Mildred Benson, who under the name Carolyn Keene wrote 23 books in the Nancy Drew series for young girls, is dumbfounded at the impact her can-do heroine had on the lives of many readers. One woman, inspired by Drew, overcame her shyness and eventually became a murder detective. Another, after a bad marriage, withdrew to her bedroom with all her old Drew books and pulled herself back together. A third, a university professor, said Nancy Drew had given her the courage to speed away from her northern Minnesota town where the only role for women was 'to do all the cooking and cleaning."
From an article by Jon Anderson in The Chicago Tribune. (Date unknown)

39 comments:

Nancy P said...

Mildred Wirt Benson, who was in her 90's when she died only a few years ago, was quite a gal. She was still writing a newspaper column into her 80's, she flew small planes, and, of course, she just happened to create an archetypal American heroine. She created a girl like herself--brave, daring, and independent. I hope she's soaring high in the Great Mystery in the Sky.

AndiF said...

I was never a big reader of Nancy Drew books because when I was at the right age I was seriously into a-girl-and-her-horse books. Those books, though, had the same kind of subversive (for the 50s) message -- the protagonists were girls had their owns ideas about who they were and what they wanted and acted on them. And even better, they never wore dresses!

Family Man said...

Morning Nancy and Andi.

I never did read any of the Nancy Drew books, but I have seen a couple of the old movies. I do respect a writer though, that can inspire someone whether child or adult.

Hope everyone's day goes good.

Beth said...

Morning folks! I read Nancy Drew (as a child I devoured books), but the Trixie Belden series was my addiction. Nice that there are authors out there writing books for children/young adults with characters they can look up to and emulate. As long as we can get them away from the television and video games...

Speaking of writing - back to mine.

katiebird said...

Good Morning! Hi Nancy, Andif, FamilyMan & Beth!!

Mister tried to make me stay in bed -- but I said, "NO!" I've got to go talk to my friends!

I LOVED Nancy Drew. A friend of my mom's gave me a dozen or more of the old 1930(?) edition and that got me started.

Whoever it was also gave us a bunch of Beverly Grey (Journalist/solver of mysteries) & Judy someone(Married to an FBI man, also solves mysteries)

I loved reading all of them. Nancy was the best.

The cover you choose for this morning's art is beautiful.

olivia said...

Morning all.

Another Nancy Drew reader here.

Jen said...

Another Trixie Belden fan here. Loved those books as a kid; read them over and over. (And Andi, iirc Trixie's best friend Honey lived up the road and had horses.)

I never got into the Nancy Drew stories, I'm not sure why, but another kid detective series I liked a whole lot was The Three Investigators.

The impact that authors can have on the psyche is really tremendous. E & I were just talking about this yesterday, about how powerful stories are w/r/t shaping identities and belief systems and like that. Authors have a major hand in creating not only their own art, but also the shape of a significant portion of our cultural/conceptual world(s).

Beth said...

Hi Jen! I used to dream that Jim was my boyfriend...back in the days when I didn't know what a boyfriend was. :-)

My sister found a slew of TB books at a garage sale recently - talk about a blast from the past.

Jen said...

Beth, I should have realized some things when I was mostly uninterested in the boys and thoroughly captivated by the relationship between Trixie and Honey, but it was another few years before I put that equation together in a way that made any sense. ;)

That's so cool about finding the books again. I still remember being devastated when my complete set got moldy in a box in the garage.

FARfetched said...

A toast to Ms. Benson, and others like her, who broke down barriers and achieved the closest thing to immortality on this side of life!

FM, I think I picked up a Nancy Drew book once. Maybe by accident. The Hardy Boys were geared for our particular gender.

I'll have to say the Hardys had an impact on my life — they didn't make me anything close to brave or daring, but I think my first foray into writing (as a pre-teen) was an attempt to imitate those stories. Mom saw me hunting & pecking at her old Smith-Corona manual, dug out the typing textbook she'd lifted in high school, and I used that to teach myself to touch-type.

Conda said...

Good morning, all. I adored Nancy Drew, and yeah, those mysteries had a powerful impact on my life. I credit them with the start of my mystery addiction, both writing and reading.

In the '90's I worked for a bookstore and the publisher of the new ND's went back and updated the old originals. Because children wouldn't read anything about olden times. Big mistake! Lots of complaints from readers.

(They also said no child would read the Harry Potter that was--what--700 pages? Wrong again.)

Nancy P said...

Good morning, everybody!

I was a "horse girl," too, devouring those stories at the same time as the mysteries.

I've heard a lot of women say they preferred the Trixie Beldon stories, but I had never even heard of them until I was an adult. And "The Three Investigators" is completely new to me!

Conda, I agree about the updated books. The first thing they did was make her 18 instead of 16, which meant they didn't think people should believe a l6 year old was capable of such qualities. Then they got her best friend involved, so she didn't solve the mysteries on her own anymore, and they made her MUCH more dependent on the opinions, etc.of her father and boyfriend. Yuk. The first book came out in 1930, the rewrite of it in 1959. That pretty well says it all, I think, in terms of the "progress" of women at that time.

I loved the Hardy Boys, too.

Beth said...

LOL, Jen - yeah, I guess that would be kind of telling! I was jealous of the friendship they had - never had a best friend like that. I wanted Honey's hair. :-)

My sis's house was flooded this spring, and she lost the books all over again. They're out there somewhere!

Nancy P said...

For you bird lovers out there, our pal Rick Bylina has up a short- funny-charming guest blog today by his 15-year old cockatiel. (See blog list on front page for "Rick, Musing.")

Nancy P said...

Jen, I forgot to say. . .oh, what an awful moment! When you saw your books were moldy.

Hi, Beth, you're home?

Rick Bylina said...

NP...Thanks for the pointer to Sydney's guest blog. When he gets his 15 hours of sleep, he'll have a swell head.

I must confess. I've never read a Nancy Drew or Hardy Boy's book. I know. I must be evil, but just remember. Evil spelled backwards is live. And at the time I should have been reading ND and HB, I was running from my brother, fishing with my grandfather, beating all the neighborhood kids in checkers and chess, playing whiffle ball, lusting for DB before I knew what lust was, biking all over central NJ, and reading the encyclopedia. "M" was my favorite.

I was 33 before I read "Charlotte's Web", given that rapturous experience, I'll have to give ND and HB a try for the holidays.

-rick
http://muse-needed.blogspot.com/

Beth said...

Yep, I'm home, Nancy. Drove 12 hours yesterday - severe case of numb-butt syndrome! Now I'm not leaving til the 31st...so I'm back on my regular schedule again. Or trying to be, anyway - keep staring out the window for long stretches. I'll get past that.

When do you leave again? You're out and about more than me, these days!

Nancy P said...

Rick, I love that bird-post, but I doubt you'll love ND or HB books at your advanced age. (In referring to these books, anything over 10 years is "advanced.") They don't translate well for adults, the way Charlotte's web does, plus there's the whole issue of the original books versus the rewrites, and the issue of the early racial and religious stereotyping in them. . .

I think you have to be a 10 year old girl or boy in 1955.

Nancy P said...

Beth, I leave again this Friday and will be back on Sunday. Then I'm home for a long while. I think.

katiebird said...

Didn't Nancy drive a "sporty roadster" -- or something like that? I always thought I'd get one someday.

(back to work)

Nancy P said...

She did drive a blue convertible sportster, katiebird. I think we all wanted one like that! Her father gave it to her. Of course, this is the same father--Mr. Drew--who said to her one time in the original books when she went off to catch a killer, "Take this pistol, Nancy. You may need it!"

Ah, those were the days. :)

katiebird said...

"Take this pistol" ??

Wow. I don't remember THAT?

Of course, my memory is failing fast. I don't even remember the last time we had lunch together....

Nancy P said...

Hint: it was the deli, kb. ;)

How's your schedule for next week?

The rest of you come too! Man, wouldn't that be fun!

katiebird said...

Maybe we could visit my photographs then go to The Legends somewhere for lunch?

Anytime next week is good for me. How about everyone else? Kansas City is at its best in October....

Nancy P said...

Your photo exhibit! Yes!

Beth said...

You have a photo exhibit, kb?? WOW! Can I come to lunch, too? If I leave now I might make it in time, numb butt and all. :-)

I'm jealous. Wish we all could get together for lunch!

Maybe we'll have to do a virtual one, with one of far's crockpot concoctions and lemon tart and maybe even the virgin of pizza...okay, maybe not. It wouldn't have to be a diet lunch, since it's virtual calories, right? I could bring fettucini alfredo...

FARfetched said...

[note to self: use the BIG crockpot]

katiebird said...

We can eat virtually anything we want!

Nancy P said...

lol, far! Maybe you'll bring a recipe that day.

Beth and KB, you're right! We can virtually eat anything, so I'm having some of your fettucine to go with the lemon tart. The whole lemon tart.

Beth said...

Boy, my yogurt drink pales in comparison. I'm going to go work out and dream of lemon tarts and fettucini...and BIG crockpots full of FAR goodies!

Family Man said...

I didn't know about KB's photo exhibit myself. Wow - Olivia better watch out. :)

To heck with this virtual lunch. I want the real crock pot and lemon tart. :~)

FARfetched said...

My AIM webmail coughed up a link to a cooking video last night, in which the guy made what he called Tuscany Steak (baked with rosemary) with Creamed Spinach (heavy cream, fresh spinach, and grated parmesan). I could have two virtual helpings and not budge my cholesterol. YUM.

BTW, I remember seeing Trixie Belden books at the library when I was a kid too.

Beth said...

Oh wow, that sounds great (can you tell I'm hungry?)!! I really do need to start cooking again...hard to serve creamed spinach with oatmeal.

Thanks for the virtual treat, far!

FARfetched said...

No prob, Beth!

I had a thought (while eating, of course): maybe we could do a "virtual lunch" group chat some time. During lunch, of course. Might as well make it a long lunch, two hours, because 90% of us are in either Eastern or Central time zones.

boran2 said...

Hi all. I've never read any Nancy Drew books, but strangely enough the author Tony Hillerman has had a huge impact upon my life. Oh, not in the same kind of way. But since I started reading his books, I've travelled to the southwest more than 10 times, purchased real estate there (well, a vacant lot) and painted many southwestern landscapes. The list goes on, but it would be difficult to understate the result.

Beth said...

It can have that effect on you, can't it, Boran? There's something haunting about the desert...

I'm up for a virtual lunch group chat, far! Great idea!

olivia said...

Congratulations katieb! That is so awesome ... :)

katiebird said...

FamilyMan, Don't even joke. It's not a competition! :)

Beth and Olivia - Thanks!

It's just a tiny exhibition -- 6 photos. But, it's a start. Maybe.

Most Public Libraries are showing art now. It's a good way to Go Public I think.

On the Virtual Lunch, do we all have Gmail? That would make it easier I think....

Nancy P said...

I want to say something, I really do, but I'm sooo tired. Just got back from a wonderful, lively book club, but I'm worn out.

Sweet dreams. See you manana. . .

(Drags self to bed.)