Friday, February 13, 2009

Length of Nancy Drew Titles

In the past, I have noticed while listing books on eBay that the titles of the original 56 Nancy Drew books tend to be very close in length. I work from a template and type over the titles when changing from one listing to the next. Some of the titles have the exact same number of characters. I finally decided to make a note of how many characters each title has. The character counts include the spaces between the words.

1. The Secret of the Old Clock - 27
2. The Hidden Staircase - 20
3. The Bungalow Mystery - 20
4. The Mystery at Lilac Inn - 24
5. The Secret at/of Shadow Ranch - 26
6. The Secret of Red Gate Farm -27
7. The Clue in the Diary - 21
8. Nancy's Mysterious Letter - 25
9. The Sign of the Twisted Candles - 24
10. The Password to Larkspur Lane - 29
11. The Clue of the Broken Locket - 29
12. The Message in the Hollow Oak - 29
13. The Mystery of the Ivory Charm - 30
14. The Whispering Statue - 21
15. The Haunted Bridge - 18
16. The Clue of the Tapping Heels - 29
17. The Mystery of the Brass Bound Trunk - 36
18. The Mystery at the Moss-Covered Mansion - 39
18. Mystery of the Moss-Covered Mansion - 35
19. The Quest of the Missing Map - 28
20. The Clue in the Jewel Box - 25
21. The Secret in the Old Attic -27
22. The Clue in the Crumbling Wall - 30
23. The Mystery of the Tolling Bell - 31
24. The Clue in the Old Album - 25
25. The Ghost of Blackwood Hall - 27
26. The Clue of the Leaning Chimney - 31
27. The Secret of the Wooden lady - 29
28. The Clue of the Black Keys - 26
29. The Mystery at the Ski Jump - 27
30. The Clue of the Velvet Mask - 27
31. The Ringmaster's Secret - 23
32. The Scarlet Slipper Mystery - 27
33. The Witch Tree Symbol - 21
34. The Hidden Window Mystery - 25
35. The Haunted Showboat - 20
36. The Secret of the Golden Pavilion - 33
37. The Clue in the Old Stagecoach - 30
38. The Mystery of the Fire Dragon - 30
39. The Clue of the Dancing Puppet - 30
40. The Moonstone Castle Mystery - 28
41. The Clue of the Whistling Bagpipes - 34
42. The Phantom of Pine Hill - 24
43. The Mystery of the 99 Steps - 27
44. The Clue in the Crossword Cipher - 32
45. The Spider Sapphire Mystery - 28
46. The Invisible Intruder - 22
47. The Mysterious Mannequin - 24
48. The Crooked Banister - 20
49. The Secret of Mirror Bay - 24
50. The Double Jinx Mystery - 23
51. Mystery of the Glowing Eye - 26
52. The Secret of the Forgotten City - 32
53. The Sky Phantom - 15
54. The Strange Message in the Parchment - 36
55. Mystery of Crocodile Island - 27
56. The Thirteenth Pearl - 20

Grosset and Dunlap definitely preferred for the titles to have between 20 and 30 characters. I have always favored the longer titles over the shorter titles, so I have never liked most of the titles with fewer than 20 characters as much as the rest of the titles.


Robert said...

The longer titles give the reader a little more to go on. The really short titles listed do tend to be the less interesting. "The Sky Phantom"? Definitely not much to go on (and one of the worst in the series).

Jennifer White said...

The Sky Phantom could have been called The Phantom in the Sky, not that it would have made the book any better. Most of the higher-numbered of the original 56 books are not as good as the earlier books.

I have never really cared for the title Nancy's Mysterious Letter since it does not follow the format of most titles. It could have been called The Strange Inheritance in England.

I hate the titles that are used for modern books. I have read all 124 Nancy Drew Files, and I cannot remember any of them based on the titles. The titles all sound alike.

Robert said...

I've not read any of the later books. I did continue getting some of the Wanderer titles after they continued the series in paperback, but I found the stories not quite as interesting and the illustrations, though perhaps of a higher quality, tended not to have the charm of the earlier drawings.

Yes, those higher-numbered of the original 56 aren't as good as earlier titles. I recently reread "The Thirteenth Pearl" and was a bit appalled at its quality. Most of the books in the 40's are still pretty good, but once the titles reached 50, it does seem the stories became poorly conceived.

Jennifer White said...

The Thirteenth Pearl is dreadful. I believe that it was one of the last books that my mother purchased for me in the early 1980s. I am pretty sure that I never finished reading it in the early 1980s. I base this on the fact that a folded piece of paper that I used for a bookmark was still in the book when I began collecting years later.

I did read all of the book around eight years ago, and I did not like it at all. Probably the last title of the original 56 that I like a lot is Pine Hill. After that point, I feel that the books gradually deteriorate in quality.

For the post-#56 Nancy Drew books, some of them are great and some of them are not so great. I have read all of them up to around #165, give or take a few. Since I cannot seem to keep myself consistently motivated to read different series books that I have not yet read, perhaps I need to consider revisiting Nancy Drew.

Anonymous said...

I was kind of shocked when I started cataloging my books to find that the first few books I had in my collection were revised text. I have a mixture of yellow spine books that were bought for me circa 1965-68, and tweeds that were given to me by a neighbor at the time who was a little older than me and had lost interest. I thought I had read all originals as a child. But then I realized that certain books were never issued with the original text in yellow spine, and these were the few that I had. Mostly everything else is original text. It was also curious that I had ALL of the books from 1 - 35 and only one - Crossword Cipher after that. Is it a coincidence that I lost interest at that point or did I not connect with the revised Nancy? I don't remember.

Anyway, since I realize now that I have never read the original "Old Clock" and a couple others, I purchased the Applewood 75th anniversary set (books 1-6 for $47 on Amazon)and started reading Old Clock. I was afraid I would find it too childish and ruin my great memories of reading these books, but happily that's not the case. OK - it's not deep reading - but it's still enjoyable and I am still impressed with Nancy's confidence and capability and can see clearly now how she was such a great role model for me and thousands of others.

I'm intending to read all the revised texts too at some point, but based on your comments and others I've read, I'm not sure I will be able to. Life's too short to waste it reading a bad book when there are so many great ones out there. But I will read the early ones for sure just to be able to compare.

Oh, and off topic, I wanted to thank you Jennifer for posting the 1st printing info for your books on Bonanzle. From that I was able to determine I have a 1st printing of Pine Hill! Got a little thrill out of that! Did you see the Farah's Guide 10th ed. that went for over $50 on ebay? Today, someone is selling Farah's 12th for $110 on ebay. Why would anyone buy that when they can get it from Farah directly for $95? I don't get it?

Jennifer White said...

The early titles in the revised editions are not bad. I read only the revised books as a child. The people who hate the early titles in the revised editions are people who grew up in the 1950s and before and do not like the changes that came to Nancy Drew later. I understand their feelings since that is how I feel about the Sweet Valley High series.

The revised versions of the early books are shorter with some word changes. Some of the stories have either largely different or completely different plots such as Lilac Inn, Shadow Ranch, Hollow Oak, Broken Locket, and Moss-Covered Mansion.

For some titles, I actually prefer the revised editions, mainly for sentimental reasons. The original texts have better descriptions, but the revised books are the ones that hooked me on reading. For the above mentioned books that are very different in plot from the original texts, I especially like Lilac Inn and Shadow Ranch in the revised versions.

The series really did not deteriorate in quality until sometime after #40. As I have already stated, I like the books a lot up to at least Pine Hill. #46 Invisible Intruder is pretty stupid overall, but I like it (I may be the only one, though). #49 is good. #53 is kind of stupid, but I really think #56 is the worst of the higher-numbered books. I do not like it at all.

What you could do is begin reading the revised texts, and if it ever gets to the point where you hate what you are reading, then you can stop. I don't like to waste my time on horrible books either. On that topic, never ever read Jane Withers and the Phantom Violin. I mention why I hate it in the Whitman section of my website. Horrors!

Robert said...

#47, #50, and #51 were okay. The ones after that dropped in quality a lot.

Your mention of the Whitman books made me laugh. I only have two, the Betty Grable one and the John Payne one. (I thought that was appropriate because they were costars in '40s Fox musicals.)

Below is a link to a picture I downloaded which I recently came across while checking out some old Barbie Bazaar magazines. This appeared in the Dec. 1999 issue and depicts the Judge's Award diorama at the 1999 National Barbie Doll Convention. The creator of the winning diorama is Donald Meindl of Ft. Meyers, FL. He cleverly used Nancy Drew book covers for inspiration to create Barbies in Nancy's images. (The article's original photography was by Debbie Breeden, Barbara Jefford, and Bob Young.)

Robert said...

Yipes, the posting cut off the webpage. After the "n" at the end should come: lower-cap-L, zero, dot jpg


Jennifer White said...

I was able to see the image from the link in my email, where it was not cut off. I'll do one here with HTML so it won't be cut off:

Link to Barbie picture

That picture is great! Thanks for sharing it!

Anonymous said...

Barbie picture is so cute! With the little props and everything! :) Great idea for a Barbie competition because ND was really fashionable, especially in the early Tandy pics. On the other hand, she is so un-Barbie-like! So, it's an interesting combination - I can see why it won the judge's award.

Thanks for sharing, Robert!