A Toledo Times photo of Mildred Wirt at her desk surrounded by her works on in August, 1949.
Local library officials and Nancy Drew fans will celebrate the 85th anniversary of the young female super sleuth and the character’s author with a dedication and convention in Toledo.
A Literary Landmark will be dedicated to the Nancy Drew series and its author and longtime Toledo resident, Mildred “Millie” Wirt Benson, at the Main Toledo-Lucas County Public Library on Saturday.
Nancy Eames, youth services coordinator for the library, had the idea to apply for a Literary Landmark through the American Library Association’s United for Libraries organization.
“A Literary Landmark is a historical marker that recognizes an important author or site,” Ms. Eames said. “I thought of Millie Benson and Nancy Drew because the Nancy Drew books are so beloved.”
“This year is a significant year because it is the 110th anniversary of Millie Benson’s birthday and the 110th anniversary of the Stratemeyer Syndicate,” Ms. Eames said. “It is also the 85th anniversary of the Nancy Drew books.”
The Stratemeyer Syndicate published the original Nancy Drew series. Mrs. Benson, known to friends and fans as Millie, was born in 1905.
Raised in rural Iowa, Mrs. Benson was interested in writing from a young age.
She published her first story in St. Nicholas, a children’s magazine, when she was a teenager.
Mrs. Benson studied journalism at the University of Iowa and became the program’s first female graduate. She spent decades writing for The Blade and the former Toledo Times.
She was still writing in The Blade newsroom until the day she died in 2002, at the age of 96.
Mrs. Benson’s best-known works were published under an entirely different name: Carolyn Keene. Using the Keene pen name, Mrs. Benson gave life to the much-loved character of young detective Nancy Drew. Mrs. Benson authored 23 of the original 30 Nancy Drew novels.
A Nancy Drew Convention will be sponsored by the Nancy Drew Sleuths in Toledo beginning Thursday and continuing through Sunday. The Sleuths will host a program titled “History Behind the Mystery: Nancy Drew and Mildred Wirt Benson” before the dedication of the Landmark in the McMaster Center of the Main Library at 11 a.m. Speakers will include the Sleuths’ president, Jennifer Fisher.
Ms. Fisher said her speech will focus on the achievements of Mrs. Benson, including the author’s travels abroad, her journalism career, and, of course, Nancy Drew.
“I know it’s the modern day and Nancy Drew was written in the 1930s, but I think Nancy transcends time,” Ms. Fisher said. “She is bold, very independent, and intelligent.
“She uses her wits to solve problems. She is a great role model and still motivates people today.”
The dedication ceremony for the Literary Landmark will follow the Sleuths’ program at 12:30 p.m. at the Children’s Library. The Sleuth program and dedication are free and open to the public. Those interested in attending are encouraged to RSVP at 419-259-5231 or by going online to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Christina Payne at: email@example.com or 419-724-6050.
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