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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 There’s outrageously outdated choices of words (“‘What!’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 But sometimes the outdated language creates a problem…”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…”

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