Nancy Drew and Female Detectives: From Daring and Determined Sleuths to Influential and Valuable Cultural Icons
Jones, Caitlin Faris
The development and proliferation of both detective fiction and children's literature in America from the 1930s through present day is historically relevant, culturally significant, and socially telling. In particular, Nancy Drew, from her emergence on the literary scene in 1930 to her more modern depiction in the Nancy Drew series books of today, represents a feminist hero and teenage icon for females of years ago and present day. While Nancy Drew exudes femininity and grace, she also demonstrates independence, daring, free-thinking, bravery, and outspokenness. As a groundbreaking personality in detective fiction for young people, Nancy has paved the way for other girl sleuths ranging from Trixie Belden and Judy Bolton to Enola Holmes and The Red Blazer Girls. Her intelligence, grace, spirit, and ingenuity inspire women sleuths, including Kinsey Milhone and Kay Scarpetta, and their respective authors in present-day fiction.To examine and understand the influence of Nancy Drew as a seminal figure in detective fiction requires a close study of primary source material. From the original Nancy Drew series books to the contemporary Girl Detective stories, the literature demonstrates Nancy's admirable character and illustrates her progression as a young, female sleuth over time. Additionally, books featuring The Red Blazer Girls, Enola Holmes, Gilda Joyce, Kinsey Millhone, and Kay Scarpetta are important for learning about other female detectives and appreciating Nancy Drew's influence on authors and fictional characters.Embodying independence, honesty, confidence, wit, sophistication, and bravery, Nancy Drew has been teaching young girls for almost eighty years the importance of intelligence, inner strength, and determination. She has paved the way for and influenced a variety of diverse female personalities in fiction for readers both young and old. Evolving over the decades, Nancy is not a static personality but rather one who changes to fit the times and appeal to modern interests. Nancy Drew is an enduring and ubiquitous character in detective fiction for youth whose impact and appeal can be seen in various forms of contemporary literature. Modern female crime writers have created adult women investigators whose persistence, determination, and courage are clearly shaped by Nancy Drew.
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