Pen Name

Telling people that there is no Carolyn Keene can sometimes be akin to telling people there is no tooth fairy or questioning the existence of Santa Claus. After all, Carolyn Keene’s books have been highly influential to millions of children across the world.

The Stratemeyer Syndicate worked by having Edward Stratemeyer (or later, his daughters and their employees) write an outline and then hire a ghostwriter to write the story based on the outline under the pseudonym.

There have been many ghostwriters to work under the name of Carolyn Keene, both during the time of the Stratemeyer Syndicate and even today under Simon & Schuster, who currently publish the new books and own the rights to Nancy Drew after they bought the Syndicate in 1985.

The first ghostwriter for the series was Mildred Benson (then known as Mildred Augustine and later Mildred Wirt). Later, Stratemeyer’s daughter, Harriet Stratemeyer Adams, became the main writer under the name Carolyn Keene, in addition to have all of the earlier books revised and running the Syndicate.

The yellow spine and “flashlight editions” of Nancy Drew are mostly Harriet Adam’s work or revisions by the Syndicate of the earlier ghostwriters (sometimes substantial changes were made).

More Info On Carolyn Keene’s Series:

Dana Girls

Dana Girls

Like that other series by Carolyn Keene , Nancy Drew, the Dana Girls solve mysteries.Produced by the Stratemeyer Syndicate by ghostwriters working under the pen name , the Dana Girls follow the adventures of Jean and Louise Dana. Started in 1934, the series has the girls engaging in some amateur...
Nancy Drew

Nancy Drew

Nancy Drew is good at everything. She can fly a plane, ride on horseback, dance ballet, and arrange flowers. And the thing she does best is solve mysteries. She is America's Favorite Teen Sleuth since she was created by Edward Stratemeyer for his Stratemeyer Syndicate in 1930.For more...
Nancy Drew MYTH-tery Stories

Nancy Drew MYTH-tery Stories

There are many myths surrounding Nancy Drew, the most popular of the Stratemeyer Syndicate series. This article seeks to clear up many of the legends surrounding Nancy Drew and the series' creation.This article is adapted from: an earlier version presented in 2007 at the Nancy Drew...

Blog Posts About Carolyn Keene’s series:

Ghostwriting in the Mega-Books era 3

In a further exploration of the Mega-Books writers’ guidelines from the early 1990s, some of the topics which were off limits in the Syndicate era were allowed (murder) while some topics used in early books (drugs or alcohol) were prohibited.

MegaBooks instructions 1.

Ghostwriting in the Mega-Books Era 2

A guide to writers of Nancy Drew books for Mega-Books provides details on the scope of the modern series. The procedures were different from those used by the Stratemeyer Syndicate.

Obelisk typeface from the Palmer & Rey type specimen book of 1887.

What the Font — Bright Days

Edward Stratemeyer owned a story paper in 1896 and 1897 called Bright Days. This explores some of the typefaces used for the titles and advertisements.

Anthony Comstock and Traps for the Young

Banned Book Week

The last week in September is considered to be Banned Book Week.  In 2019 this is Sept. 22-28. While you will see lists of many books that have been “challenged” or “censored” over the years, most of the time our juvenile series books are not listed. Yet, the librarians who wanted to impress fellow librarians, […]

Baskerville typeface used on Nancy Drew and other series books starting in the 1940s.

What the Font — 1950s Nancy Drew

A.P. Tedesco was the art director for Grosset & Dunlap and he led the redesign of most of their line, including Nancy Drew. The redesign included new body and title typefaces.

DeVinne typeface used for Nancy Drew in the 1930s.

What the Font — 1930s Nancy Drew

The typeface used to publish a book is of significant importance to the readability and overall success. The early Nancy Drew books, along with many other Syndicate books, used a particular typeface that was one of Edward Stratemeyer’s favorites.


Happy Birthday Edward Stratemeyer

Celebrating the life and career of Edward Stratemeyer on the 155th anniversary of his birthday.

Happy Birthday, Harriet Stratemeyer Adams

Celebrating Edward Stratemeyer’s eldest daughter, Harriet Stratemeyer Adams, who led the Stratemeyer Syndicate for more than half a century, twice the span her father was in charge.

List of "taboo" topics for a Stratemeyer Syndicate story, including murder, liquor, narcotics, slang, and foreign dialect speech.

Write your NaNoWriMo Novel Like a Classic Nancy Drew Volume — Part 3: Cliffhangers

The Nancy Drew books had a wide range of mysteries but they were not murder mysteries. The formula for stories was refined to direct the number and placement of illustrations and cliffhanger chapter endings.

First two pages of the detailed outline for chapter 1 of an unpublished Stratemeyer Syndicate series called Kellee Kawaii.

Write your NaNoWriMo Novel Like a Classic Nancy Drew Volume — Part 2: Outlines

For a writer who is a plotter (rather than a “pantser”), the outline is an important guide to the project. See how the Stratemeyer Syndicate outlines evolved over time.

printing plate for Dana Girls book

Artifact — Dana Girls electrotype printing plate

How a Series Book is Printed When series books were published, it was expected that thousands of copies would be printed and sold.  The lead-based type metal (actually lead, tin and antimony) was too soft and heavy for a page’s worth of type.   The electrotype printing plate was one of two main methods used […]