Mildred Wirt Benson, better known by her pen name Carolyn Keene, creator of legendary teenage sleuth NANCY DREW, died Tuesday in Toledo, Ohio. She was 96.
In an era when young women readers had role models like... well, who?... to look up to as strong role models, Bensen wrote the first 23 of the original 30 NANCY DREW books. The books never went out of print, and were snapped up by three generations of new readers. While it might be a stretch to say she was a precursor of today's era of female genre heroes like BUFFY and XENA, it's not a stretch by much.
In addition to the 16-year-old detective DREW, Benson created the Penny Parker mystery series.
"I always knew the series would be successful," Benson said of her most famous creation. "I just never expected it to be the blockbuster that it has been. I'm glad that I had that much influence on people."