I was asked to write an article about Milred Wirt Benson, the first Carolyn Keene, who wrote 23 of the first 30 Nancy Drew books for What it Means to Be An American, a website sponsored by The Smithsonian and The National Museum of American History, Arizona State University, and Zocalo. Smithsonian.com also posted the article.
Millie was a real life Nancy Drew and lived a very full and adventurous life between writing 135 published series books, a life-long journalism career, becoming a pilot and adventuring to Mayan sites bushwhacking through Central America.
I am currently writing a biography on Millie and you can follow my progress and learn more about the project at my website. Piecing together the many facets of her life has been like a real life Nancy Drew mystery to solve and it's been an amazing research adventure so far!
Benson wrote the first Nancy Drew book, The Secret of the Old Clock, pictured above, a first printing from my collection. It was published on April 28, 1930 along with the 2nd and 3rd volumes in the series, The Hidden Staircase and The Bungalow Mystery.
Her favorite series that she wrote, was her Penny Parker Mystery Stories series, the first title, Tale of the Witch Doll, pictured above.
The first book Millie wrote for Edward Stratemeyer and his Stratemeyer Syndicate was Ruth Fielding and Her Great Scenario - her author's copy pictured here and what she wrote inside. This book is in a collection of her author's copies at the University of Iowa, in the Iowa Women's Archive. She was the first person to receive a Masters in Journalism from the University and they have a nice archive of her papers and author's copies.