Mildred Wirt Benson died tuesday at the age of 96. The author of the very first book and 22 others in the earliest series of Nancy Drew novels confided to a NYTimes reporter in 1993 that her esoteric fame could all sometimes add up to being a bit much. "I'm so sick of Nancy Drew I could vomit," she said.
Nancy Drew, seldom just Nancy, inspired readers, many of them envious girls, to scoop up more than 80 million copies of the books in the series. Here was a heroine who could survive being beaten, choked and tossed into car trunks; escape spiders and snakes and then retire at night in her four-poster bed in a golden bedroom. She dated the athletic Ned and basked in the attentions of her doting, widowed father, the distinguished lawyer Carson Drew. And she had no mother to interfere with her adventures.
I still have my own beautifully-illustrated edition of "The Bungalow Mystery" (1960) and "The Mystery at Lilac Inn" (1961) high on our library shelf.