Was Nancy Drew a Racist?

Nancy DrewIt’s the 80th anniversary of Nancy Drew, but a funny thing happens when you read the original 1930 editions of her mysteries. There’s outrageously outdated choices of words (“‘What!’ the men ejaculated in astonishment” or “The girls accordingly enjoyed themselves by admiring each other’s dainty lingerie…”) And in Password to Larkspur Lane, Nancy Drew even shares a kiss with her female friend Helen.

“I’m not saying Nancy Drew was a lesbian. (Believe me, I still remember the pushback on our 2007 article, How Gay Were the Hardy Boys.) But sometimes the outdated language creates a problem…”

And even if all of this article’s vintage crime illustrations don’t hint at an exotic rope-bondage fetish, there’s another problem with the original 1930s editions: racism. Quotes from The Hidden Staircase and Mystery at Lilac Inn prove, as one publisher acknowledged delicately, that “Much has changed” in America.

“The modern reader may be extremely uncomfortable with the racial and social sterotypes…”

9 Comments on "Was Nancy Drew a Racist?"

  1. lucasbonz | May 2, 2010 at 10:57 pm |

    I'm sure no one like a story that tell some racial or something like that. I agree that modern reader uncomfortable to read some social stereotypes. The best think are to keep realize the story with the fact and combine them with our imagination.

  2. Hadrian999 | May 2, 2010 at 11:14 pm |

    i don't think there is much popular fiction from that time that wouldn't offend the sensibilities of modern readers.
    times change, that is no reason to damn the writers because they aren't as modern as us.

    • Totally agree with this. I have to admit I've never read a Nancy Drew, but it's only natural that life and language have changed a lot in 80 years. I don't like stereotypes, either, but rather than trying to judge writers and their characters by the standards of a society they couldn't possibly have imagined, I prefer to think of it as evidence that we've moved on.

  3. I think that 'modern readers' need to grow up, or they should at least stop to force their crypto Marxist ideals onto anyone else, and history. Such stupidity is only possible in the West.

  4. GoodDoktorBad | May 3, 2010 at 3:36 pm |

    These old stories are a view to history. They give us a flavor of times gone by, how people spoke, their attitudes and how they may have lived. In many ways, old books are a much richer view of history than most of the crappy history texts I read in school….

    Seeing for instance, how racist people were “way back when”, is an education in itself. I don't think an attempt at censorship is a good idea. Evil can be likened to a mold that grows best in the dark…
    Wake up and turn on the metaphoric 'light'….

  5. Anonymous | May 4, 2010 at 10:24 pm |

    I always thought she was fictional not racist or feminist just imaginary.

  6. I always thought she was fictional not racist or feminist just imaginary.

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