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14 Nancy Drew Mystery Covers that Remind Us of Why She Was Our First Crush

14 Nancy Drew Mystery Covers that Remind Us of Why She Was Our First Crush

14 Nancy Drew Mystery Covers that Remind Us of Why She Was Our First Crush

Nancy was the most put-together girl sleuth to ever solve a clue in a crumbling wall.

TracyEGilchrist

Nancy Drew was the titian-haired (or strawberry blonde depending on the novel) girl with the glamorous life of intrigue and travel who never met a clue that stumped her. She was fearless and whipsmart. And while she had a boyfriend in Ned Nickerson, at her core, she was a real girl’s girl who always had her best gal friends’ George’s and Bess’s backs. She was also my first crush. By the time the TV show (starring Pamela Sue Martin) came out, I knew there was something about Nancy, whether in the myriad of Carolyn Keene's mystery stories or on the small screen, that I was really into. I kind of wanted to be her –– independent, fearless, thoughtful, totally put together.. But more than that, her agency at a time when girls were still mostly empowered to excel mainly at Home Ec, was undeniably attractive to this budding gay girl.

My first intro to Nancy came when I was seven and my mom pulled out one of my sister’s old books to read it aloud together. The idea was that we would swap off on reading chapters to help improve my reading skills, but my mom inevitably fell asleep to the sound of my voice (she called me the drone), and I’d reread the same chapters to her sometimes repeatedly, becoming incredibly familiar with the all of Nancy's nuances. We began with The Clue in the Crumbling Wall and worked our way through dozens of Nancy Drew Mysteries. Even as I played in our backyard in Connecticut, climbing our massive weeping willow tree, I acted out Nancy Drew plotlines in my head, inevitably inserting myself into the story. 

Created 85 years ago, Nancy is the obvious prototype for badass girl sleuths to come -- the most obvious contemporary spawn being the Pretty Little Liars, but even they can't match Nancy's mystery-solving prowess.  If Nancy dropped in on Pretty Little Liars' fictional Rosewood, the mystery of A would have been solved in a single episode. 

To honor Nancy on her 85th birthday I went on an expedition searching for some of my favorite Nancy Drew book covers that depict an independent Nancy who was also the best friend a girl could ask for. Some are covers of the mysteries I read with my mom while others are slightly more contemporary, and incredibly campy. It turns out that the '80s was a time of high camp for Nancy. 

Nice vest, George... 

 


Now that's how you run away to the circus. 


The missing map to Lesbos?


There's nothing like a good old-fashioned ride in a stage coach. 


"Buried Secrets..." you be the judge. 


Smart girls wearing flats to a castle. 


I feel a Phantom/Christine moment coming on... 

This looks like it's straight out of a '60s Euro lesbian film. 

 


Secrets can kill, and it looks like there's more than one behind inspiring this illustration. 

 

All hail the pencil skirt era! 


Pay no attention to the girl in the lilac bushes. 

 


Nothing comes between a girl and her horse. 

Of course George can row. Next stop, Wellesley crew. 


I think this one speaks for itself. 

 

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Tracy E. Gilchrist

Tracy E. Gilchrist is the VP, Executive Producer of Entertainment for the Advocate Channel. A media veteran, she writes about the intersections of LGBTQ+ equality and pop culture. Previously, she was the editor-in-chief of The Advocate and the first feminism editor for the 55-year-old brand. In 2017, she launched the company's first podcast, The Advocates. She is an experienced broadcast interviewer, panel moderator, and public speaker who has delivered her talk, "Pandora's Box to Pose: Game-changing Visibility in Film and TV," at universities throughout the country.

Tracy E. Gilchrist is the VP, Executive Producer of Entertainment for the Advocate Channel. A media veteran, she writes about the intersections of LGBTQ+ equality and pop culture. Previously, she was the editor-in-chief of The Advocate and the first feminism editor for the 55-year-old brand. In 2017, she launched the company's first podcast, The Advocates. She is an experienced broadcast interviewer, panel moderator, and public speaker who has delivered her talk, "Pandora's Box to Pose: Game-changing Visibility in Film and TV," at universities throughout the country.