A few months ago, I wrote about the Valerie Drew short stories that were published in Schoolgirls' Weekly in the United Kingdom from 1934 through 1939. Over 200 stories were published. The old magazines probably survived in very low quantities and are now in rough shape with rusted staples, soiling, and foxing. Even worse, I must import them from the United Kingdom, which raises my cost substantially. I now have at least one-third of the stories and have been gradually reading them. Even though I have spent quite a bit on the issues, it's worth it to acquire long-forgotten stories that most people have never seen.
These stories fascinate me. Valerie Drew is Nancy Drew's British counterpart. The creator of Valerie Drew quite obviously based her on Nancy Drew. What is most remarkable is that a number of the Valerie Drew titles are eerily similar to Nancy Drew or other Grosset and Dunlap series titles that were published after the Valerie Drew stories were published. It's almost like someone at Grosset and Dunlap saw the Valerie Drew stories. I have no evidence upon which to back up that statement, and I have to believe that the similarities were bizarre coincidences and nothing more.
Here are some of the coincidences from the stories I have read so far.
"The Girl in the Red Scarf" was published on July 7, 1934. The first Kay Tracey book by Frances K. Judd was published on August 24, 1934. That story was titled The Secret of the Red Scarf. The Valerie Drew story features a girl named Frances. While I haven't read the Kay Tracey book in a very long time, I seem to recall a girl having an outfit like Kay's. In this Valerie Drew story, a girl is made up to look like Frances as part of a deception. The publication dates of the story and the book were too close for this to be more than coincidence, but it is very strange. "The Girl in the Red Scarf" is a very good story with a unique and very creative solution to the mystery.
"The Whispering Cavalier" was published on June 9, 1934. A painting of a female cavalier whispers a warning. This reminds me a little bit of the Nancy Drew book, The Whispering Statue.
"Hide and Seek in the Circus" was published on March 26, 1938. In this story, a girl who works as a trapeze artist owns an ivory statuette. She is the daughter of the man who runs the circus. During this story, Valerie helps with the equestrian act so that she can live with the circus and not be suspected of being a detective. This story reminds me of parts of two Nancy Drew books, The Mystery of the Ivory Charm and The Ringmaster's Secret. One Nancy Drew book came before this story while the other came after. This story is not at all the same as either Nancy Drew book, but the similarities are still interesting.
"The Girl Water-Walker" was published on June 13, 1936. When I saw this title, I immediately thought of the Nancy Drew book, The Secret of Mirror Bay. I knew that a girl would somehow walk on water in this story. How interesting! The story is not even slightly like Mirror Bay, and the method used by the girl is completely different from the method used in Mirror Bay. Still, I love the title of this story.
Several times during the story, the phrase "the mystery of the tolling bell" is used. In 1946, the Nancy Drew book, The Mystery of the Tolling Bell was published. This Valerie Drew story uses the precise title of a future Nancy Drew book.
Also of interest, this story takes place by a cliff and on the ocean, and The Mystery of the Tolling Bell has a similar setting.
"The Threat of the Tolling Bell" is a very good story.
It's like Valerie Drew was one of Nancy Drew's relatives. The entire time that Nancy Drew was solving mysteries in River Heights in the 1930s, her counterpart, Valerie Drew, was solving mysteries of her own in Great Britain. And we had no idea.