85 years of Nancy Drew detective stories: solving the mystery of the teen sleuth’s timeless appeal – part 2: Stratemeyer, Adams and Bensen

By Susanna Speier
Denver Private Investigator Blogger

One-hundred and fifty-three years ago, today, on October 4, 1862, Edward Stratemeyer, the author and founder of the Stratemeyer Syndicate was born to German tobacconists in Elizabeth, New Jersey. He grew up reading Horatio Alger and sold his 1st story —and one he claimed to have written on brown wrapping paper in his father’s tobacco shop. Stratemeyer’s big break came in the form of a letter of from the then dying Horatio Alger asking him to complete a story he was too ill to finish. Stratemeyer went on to finish several of Alger’s stories posthumously.

The spread of primary education cleared a market hungry for youth fiction and Stratemeyer revolutionized the publishing process by employing teams of ghost writers. A 2004 New Yorker article by Mehgan O’Rourke, titled Nancy Drew’s Father compared what Stratemeyer did for publishing to what Henry Ford did for automobile manufacturing. He created a number of series books including The Hardy Boys in the 1920s.

“On 10 May 1930 Edward Stratemeyer died in Newark, New Jersey shortly after the premiere of the first Nancy Drew book, The Secret of the Old Clock, according to the Stratemeyer biography written by C.D. Merriman for Jalic Inc. The Syndicate fell into the hands of his daughters Harriet Stratemeyer Adams and Edna Camilla Stratemeyer and Jennifer Fisher (also quoted in part 1) credits their “efficient management” with the series’ long survival.

As Stratemeyer did not approve of women working outside the home, his daughter, Harriet Stratemeyer Adams helped her father edit for him at home until her marriage and after getting married she became a full-time homemaker. Following her father’s death, however, Adams took the helm of his business and — More—


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