Monday, July 21, 2008

Thoughts on Beverly Gray Part IV

In June, I commented that the Ruth Fielding series was a likely inspiration for the Beverly Gray series. The plot elements from Beverly Gray, Senior are similar to plot elements in both Ruth Fielding in Moving Pictures and Ruth Fielding at Golden Pass. Additionally, the plot of Ruth Fielding and Her Greatest Triumph is very much like the plot of some of the Beverly Gray books in which Beverly and her friends travel to exotic locations.

As I thought about it some more, I made a couple more connections. Ruth Fielding's dormitory burns down in Ruth Fielding in Moving Pictures. Beverly Gray's dormitory meets the same fate in Beverly Gray, Freshman.

In the Adventure Girls series, also written by Clair Blank, the Adventure Girls attend Briarhurst College. Ruth Fielding's first school is Briarwood Hall. Coincidence? Maybe, maybe not.

I pointed out in a recent post that the first Girl Scouts book by Edith Lavell reminds me not only of Ruth Fielding but of Beverly Gray. In The Girl Scouts at Miss Allen's School, two friends, Marjorie Wilkinson and Ruth Henry are unable to room together, just like how friends Beverly Gray and Anne White are unable to room together in Beverly Gray, Freshman. Additionally, The Girl Scouts at Miss Allen's School has a large number of characters, too many to keep straight, and very little descriptive information is given, just like in the Beverly Gray books.

It is clear that several of these earlier series influenced Clair Blank. In Yellowback Library, No. 55, Anita Susan Grossman states:
Talking with people who were close to her, I learned of a Clair Moyer who was fun-loving and sociable. She may not have belonged to the Alpha Delta sorority, but she had a group of four friends who met regularly for years. One can see the kind of person she was from her stories, where friendship plays such a large role, and the key words are "merry," "gay," and "hilarious." Unlike other mystery series of the 1930s and 40s, the focus is on the group as much as the titular heroine. What we recall about many of the Beverly Gray books is not one particular detail, but the sense of a group of young people of both sexes travelling the globe to seek adventure . . . Part of this is due to the conventions of the genres within which she worked: one thinks of the Linger-Nots, the Meadow-Brook Girls, Blythe Girls, Motor Girls, Outdoor Girls, Campfire Girls, and other such peripatetic groups with names suggestive of outdoor activity; and also of school series whose individual books are framed by the academic calendar rather than by any single plot line. The episodic nature of the Beverly Gray books harks back to these earlier, more leisurely series, in contrast to the tightly-plotted Nancy Drew books, where every conversation has a direct bearing on the mystery, and humor is generally absent.
I agree on all points. The Beverly Gray series is like the earlier series books in that the books have a large cast of characters and the interaction between the characters is very important. At the same time, the action is greatly sped up, so the series is also very similar to the Nancy Drew because something exciting is always happening.

—to be continued

2 comments:

Lisa said...

I have a question...my daughter owns a recent Nancy Drew paperback (The Nutcracker Ballet Mystery #110 - Aladdin) which has a printing error on the spine. Instead of listing "The Nutcracker Ballet Mystery" over Carolyn Keene's name, it says "BOOK TITLE". Is this worth holding on to, or are there millions of them out there with this error? Please contact me @ Augustlan@aol.com. Thanks!

Jennifer said...

The first Aladdin reprint had the error on the spine and then the error was corrected for later printings. It is not rare but may be scarce. It will probably not ever have any great value since there are probably quite a few of them, although it is of interest to collectors who want everything.