News, fanfiction, satire, and all the latest and the oldest about the vintage Hardy Boys books and similar vintage juvenile series.
Judy Bolton Days
First annual in 1991!
Tuesday, September 25, 2018
NEW BOOK ABOUT MILDRED WIRT BENSON
CALL ME DAVE: MILDRED WIRT BENSON, THE TRANSGENDER MAN WHO WROTE NANCY DREW
Written like a thriller about the lives of Mildred Wirt Benson, author of the original Nancy Drew books, and her friend David Farah, author of the Farah's Guides to the Nancy Drew books, this volume offers insights into Nancy Drew and series book collecting you won't find elsewhere. It also offers a lot of controversy because of David's assertion that Millie was a transgender man, obviously continuing to present as a woman because of the stigma associated with being trans. Millie was very active in Nancy Drew collecting circles before her death, often attending cons and get-togethers with David, and many collectors knew her. The two are undoubtedly the most important people in the Nancy Drew fandom - Millie wrote the books and David taught us all how to collect them. But now David's new book is causing waves and some consider it blasphemy. How can anyone say such things about Millie? The answer to that is 'Read the book and find out'. I knew Millie and, along with the facts David presents, I think his observation is on the mark and should not be be dismissed. It explains a lot, especially why those original Nancy Drews were so out of the ordinary and had such a broad appeal to girls and boys alike. Before I acquired the book, I made a post to a Facebook series collecting group about it, asking for information. The post was removed. Case closed. They don't want to talk about it. Aww, c'mom kids, let's all grow up. We all loved Millie. But it'd be better to understand her the way she really was, and still love her. She had an amazing effect on our lives, all for the good, and we owe her. Big time. So lets take a moment to understand her and understand how big the gift was she gave to us - unending inspiration. And give David credit for explaining in a simple affectionate way what so many of us wondered and discussed about. But then, LGBT issues were never accepted much in these collector groups even though a good half of the members are LGBT or allies. In fact, hardly anything outside the influence of the particular group guru is accepted, this a means to keep a tight control. Their reaction to the book told me it really had to be good, jealousy is a dead giveaway, and I was not disappointed when it arrived. I read it straight through. David writes this book intertwining his story with Millie's story, how they both grew up, she to to become writer of the Nancy Drews and he to become the chronicler of over 2600 printings of them in his guides. Also in the mix are loads of information about series books and series book collecting that you cannot find anywhere else. Sometimes the author gets carried away with detail, but those of us who know David would expect that, and it's best to read it all because the real story is always there, in the sum of all the details. However, I was really annoyed when the long-winded but compelling book suddenly ended when I thought it was going to get even deeper. Aww. I like deep. I like detail. I like knowing the whole story. But a teaser on the back inside cover promises a volume 2 with more, more, more about Millie and David, and I'm hoping that's actually in the works right now!
A post I made recently to a Facebook series book collecting group about a new Mildred Wirt Benson book was removed by a moderator who obviously did not want it there. In the post I named the book and asked if anyone had heard anything about it, a very common request to ask. Mildred, of course, is the author of the original Nancy Drew books and many other series similar to it, an icon in the vintage series book collecting world, composed mostly of older adults. So shocking that they'd remove a post about a book written about her!
The book is titled Mildred Wirt Benson: The Transgender Man Who Wrote Nancy Drew by David Farah, the author of the Farah Guides, popular guides to the printing history of the Nancy Drew books.
I knew Mildred and knew her as a woman. If she transitioned to a man I do not know anything about that, which is why I asked, figuring one of the many other collectors might know about it. I know that Farah knew her much more intimately than most other collectors, so I have no reason to doubt the veracity of the content of his book, just wanted info about it while I waited for my copy to arrive in the mail.
I'm assuming the post was removed because the moderator doesn't want posts about transgenders on the group's page. There have been anti-LGBT incidents in other such groups before even though many collectors are LGBT and allies. This is ridiculously childish behavior for an adult group, and very bigoted. The post did not promote the book or advertise it, just asked for general information. Is it good? Did you like it? How long has it been out? Are there any reviews? That kind of thing. Farah is highly respected in this particular collectors circle, but I suppose they must not be discussing his book if they have deleted the post.
What a shame if Millie was transgender (which I'm assuming she was if Farah wrote a book about it) and her fans do not want to accept her that way, or even talk about it, yet keep on exalting her for having been such a legend in the genre. But bigotry and prejudice is a hard act to change and most of the self-appointed gurus in the vintage series book collecting circles are all-around bigots, against just about everything that does not help promote only themselves.
I'll be getting the book soon and in my next post I'll review it. Millie was quite a character and it'll be interesting to learn about her secret life (at least to us collectors).