“Read, read, read. That’s all I can say.”

Nancy Drew offered this incredible advice in the first of the Nancy Drew Mystery Stories, written by Carolyn Keene.

I wished I’d written that. I’m sure that for years the original Carolyn Keene, Mildred “Millie” Augustine Wirt Benson wished readers knew that she had.

The quote is from the text of The Secret of the Old Clock. It was not only the first Nancy Drew Mystery, but it was also the first Nancy Drew that Millie wrote for Edward Stratemeyer.

Edward created the Stratemeyer Syndicate, which served as a book packager, a connecting point between ghostwriters he would hire, and publishers.

Edward created the Hardy Boys, the Bobbsey Twins, and yes, Nancy Drew.

But Millie was the original writer for the series. She wrote 23 of the first 30 in the series. And then she went on to write a total of 135 books for children, often up to 13 a year. And while she was doing so, she tended to her bed-ridden husband and little daughter.

Then Millie became a reporter, working for the Toledo Times and then The Blade for a combined 58 years.

As if that wasn’t enough, Millie obtained her private pilot’s license at the age of 62. She didn’t stop there. She applied for NASA’s Journalist in Space program when she was in her eighties.

Millie once stated that a character she created, Penny  Parker, was more Nancy Drew than Nancy Drew was.

I might suggest Millie Benson was more Nancy Drew than either one of the fictional characters.

It was a fascinating journey researching and writing Millie’s biography.

Pick up your copy of Missing Millie Benson: The Secret Case of the Nancy Drew Ghostwriter and Journalist at your favorite bookstore.

In the immortal words of Millie, “Read, read, read. That’s all I can say.”