Posts Tagged ‘Weathers Creeek Writing Series’
I am so honored to welcome writer Ann Wicker to The Practice of Creativity. I met Ann through my writing teacher Marjorie Hudson. Marjorie gave a workshop at the Weathers Creek Writing Series located on a beautiful farm in Iredell county, NC and I attended her session. Ann co-founded this series that brings writers together in an intimate setting. I’ve gotten to know Ann through her witty blog, ‘That’s All, She Wrote’. Today she gives us a glimpse into the life of Mildred Wirt Benson, ghostwriter of the Nancy Drew series and prolific creator.
Even voracious readers of mysteries probably don’t know the name Mildred Wirt Benson. She was a journalist and author whose work included more than 130 books and countless contributions to magazines and newspapers.
Her first story was published when she was 14, and she went on to help defray college costs at what was then the State University of Iowa by selling short stories. She became the first woman to be awarded a master’s degree in journalism from the same institution in 1927.
But her most famous work was, for many years, anonymous. Although Edward Stratemeyer created the idea of Nancy Drew, a bright young woman who solved mysteries, it was writer Benson who brought the character to life in the first 23 books. Stratemeyer, as part of the process of the Stratemeyer Syndicate, created characters and outlines for the various series and then hired freelance writers to actually write the books. Versions of these characters remain popular, including the Bobbsey Twins, the Hardy Boys, Dana Girls, Tom Swift and others. Her role was revealed when she testified in a 1980 court proceeding about the books produced by the syndicate.
But Benson was also more than just a ghostwriter for Stratemeyer. She wrote different types of books, both fiction and nonfiction – and she remained curious about the world all her life. After that first story, she never stopped writing until she died in 2002 at 96.
When I was young, I loved the stories of Nancy and her pals. She drove a roadster, she was curious, and her dad was great. As Melanie Rehak says in her book Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her, “The trick to this is that she does it all in the name of rising to a challenge, a quality that most people wish they had but can only hope to approximate.”
Nancy’s self-reliance was something to aspire to – and Mildred Wirt Benson, through her writing and her life, showed many of us the way.
– Ann Wicker
Writer and editor Ann Wicker was in the newspaper and magazine business for many years. A graduate of Davidson College, she also holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Queens University of Charlotte.
Making Notes: Music of the Carolinas was an idea she took to Novello Festival Press. This nonfiction anthology features stories and essays about the rich legacy of music in North and South Carolina.
Wicker is co-founder of the Weathers Creek Writers’ Series, which offers one-day writing workshops in a log cabin in Cleveland, NC.
In addition, she works with individual writers as an editor and coach. She has been a presenter at the South Carolina Book Festival and the Southern Festival of Books. Her work has appeared in Creative Loafing, SouthPark, Charlotte, Lake Norman Magazine and elsewhere.
(Photocredits from the following sources University of Iowa Library’s Special Collections, Mildred Wirt Benson website)