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University of Iowa News Release

Sept. 27, 2005

Oct. 10 'Live From Prairie Lights' Series Features Melanie Rehak On Nancy Drew

Poet and critic Melanie Rehak will read from her new book, "Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her," at 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 10, on the "Live from Prairie Lights" series on University of Iowa radio station WSUI, AM 910.

The reading, hosted by WSUI's Julie Englander, will be a free event in the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City. Listen on the Internet at

Of course, the first woman to write Nancy Drew novels, under the pen name Carol Keene, was UI alumna Mildred Wirt Benson. But, as a Publishers Weekly preview noted, "Rehak invigorates all the players in the Drew story, and it's truly fun to see behind the scenes of the girl sleuth's creation, her transformation as different writers took on the series, and the publishing phenomenon -- the highly productive Stratemeyer Syndicate machine -- that made her possible.

"Rehak's most ambitious choice is to reflect on how Nancy Drew mirrors girls' lives and the ups and downs of the women's movement."

Rehak explains, "I started the research in the summer of 2002, when I went out to Iowa City to look at Mildred Benson's papers at the University of Iowa after first hearing about her. It was there that I got the idea to write about both her and Harriet Adams because she had kept a lot of news clippings about Harriet in among her Nancy Drew files. Once I knew a bit about both of their stories, I knew immediately that I wanted to write about both of them in addition to Nancy Drew -- that the Nancy story couldn't be told without both Harriet and Mildred -- and that by doing so, I could expand the book to encompass the story of working women in America."

Rehak has been a recipient of the New York Public Library's Tukman Fellowship at the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers. She writes for the New York Times Magazine, the New Yorker, Vogue, the Nation and other periodicals.

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STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

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