The Book of Jezebel: D Is For Drew, Nancy

As you may have heard, on October 22nd we'll be publishing our first book, a 300-page, hardcover, illustrated encyclopedia called The Book of Jezebel. In honor of this milestone —which took many years and dozens of contributors to execute—we'll be posting one entry from the book a day, starting with "A" and continuing on through to "Z." Although the book itself has already been printed — it's gorgeous — questions, additions, annotations and suggestions on the entries that appear online are welcomed and encouraged.

Drew, Nancy

Cultural icon, influencer of Supreme Court justices, girl detective. Nancy Drew first appeared in the 1930s, the star of her own book series created by Edward Stratemeyer, who wanted to capitalize on the fact that girls liked the Hardy Boys series and might like a girl detective even more. The books were initially written by Mildred Wirt Benson, using the pen name Carolyn Keene. Sometimes assisted in her sleuthing by her two best friends or her boyfriend, Ned Nickerson, Nancy was smart, observant and determined. And a little bit racist. In the 1950s, the books were revised to solve that last problem, though critics remarked that the revisions also served to make her more stereotypically feminine. But she is something of a supergirl, with a staggering if somewhat unrealistic range of skills including painting, sewing, and horseback riding. Over time, the character has evolved and endured, appearing in television shows and movies and dozens of foreign translations of the books. After eighty years, more than 80 million Nancy Drew books have been sold worldwide, and women like Hillary Rodham Clinton and Sonia Sotomayor cite her as an inspiration.