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Literature - Nancy Drew

6. In Spain

6. Nancy Drew: a Stranger in Spain

Nancy Drew books have been translated into 25 languages and published in many countries. But if you have been brought up in Spain, I bet this is the first time you hear about her.

My first contact was through a teacher of English, who explained in class that in her childhood, when she lived in Australia, the woman taking care of her read her a chapter every night, and she always wanted more because the story was so interesting! But the woman was strict -- one chapter every night and that was it.

If you follow "CSI Las Vegas" TV series, you have already heard of Nancy Drew, but maybe you haven't realized. In one episode, they enter a girl's bedroom to investigate a crime and she has a full collection of Nancy Drew mystery books on her bookshelf.

"In her shoes", starred by Cameron Diaz and Toni Colette, is a film where Nancy Drew is mentioned: Diaz's character says she was given a puppy by her mother when she was a child, whereas her sister (Colette) preferred a Nancy Drew book.

Recently I came across an article about Nancy Drew in "Newsweek" (June 25, 2997 issue) and it was the trigger for my investigations: why Nancy Drew, an icon in the English world, whose adventures had been followed by generations of children, named in films and TV series, such a big success, is unknown in Spain?

In my childhood, I read a lot and I remember having read other Stratemeyer's books (I have discovered they are Stratemeyer's while researching for this article) such as "The Happy Hollisters", by Jerry West (a pseudonym), and "Bobbsey Twins", by Laura Lee Hope (yet another pseudonym!). Although the second group was less known, the Hollisters were a big success, at least at my school: every girl wanted to read their adventures and we swaped books: I already have three!

The Nancy Drew stories have had four publishers in Spain: Bruguera, Susaeta, Plaza y Janes and RBA (Molino). According to the Nancy Drew World external link, Bruguera published six titles between 1975 and 1977, the first six titles of the original American collection Grosset & Dunlap published in the United States between 1930 and 1931. Amazing! The Nancy Drew adventures arrived in Spain with a delay of 45 years!

In the 1980's, Bruguera released a reprinted version of the books published in the 70's. In the National Library you can find those copies, but there is no trace of the books of the 70's.

Susaeta published in the 1980's another series of Nancy Drew adventures, almost at the same time the American version was released: the 6-title-series Nancy Drew – Hardy Boys "Be a detective", originally published in 1984 and 1985, translated into Spanish and Catalan in 1987. These titles are interactive, so to say, because the reader has to make decisions to follow the story in this or that way.

Plaza y Janés published at least two Nancy Drew books in 1989 and 1990: "La venganza del comodín" (The Joker's Revenge) and "Problemas en Tahití" (Trouble in Tahiti), as part of a collection of different books aimed at young readers, a strange collection that included, together with Nancy Drew stories, Kafka's "Metamorphosis", George Lucas' "Willow", Emili Teixidor's "Prince Ali", and other Stratemeyer's books, as Franklyn M. Dixon's "The Hardy Boys in conspiracy in Philadelphia".  These Nancy Drew books belong to different series: "Trouble in Tahiti" is number 31 in "The Nancy Drew files" and "The Joker's Revenge" is number 84 in the original series continued by Simon & Schuster.

Finally, four books of the last series launched by Simon & Schuster in 2004 and called "Nancy Drew Girl Detective, have been published in Spain by RBA (Molino) in 2007 and 2008.

To sum up, we have 6 titles published by Bruguera in the 1970's and 80's; another six titles by Susaeta in the 80's; Plaza y Janes published another two books, and now RBA Libros S.A. is releasing the last Nancy Drew adventures.

This is the short history of Nancy Drew in Spain. I've got to say that there aren't any Nancy Drew books in the public libraries of the Madrid City Council, there are six in the one of La Comunidad de Madrid, as well as the 2007 film, and some in the National Library.

Why doesn't Nancy Drew have in Spain the success she's got in other countries? It's the only mystery she hasn't solved yet!