As the author of the original Nancy Drew series of mystery novels, Mildred Wirt Benson (aka Carolyn Keene) shot to fame penning thrilling tales concerning a fearless and stylish teen detective who never failed to get to the bottom of the case. Born in Ladora, IO, Benson was the first person to receive a master's in journalism from the University of Iowa, in 1927. As a reporter who never backed down from a challenge, the future author laid the foundation for a literary creation that would enthrall generations and inspire numerous adaptations even after Keene herself halted writing Nancy Drew adventures. Paid 125 dollars per tome and receiving no royalties for the books or their resulting spin-offs, Benson continued to write novels (including the Penny Parker mysteries) and work as a reporter, all the while bound by an agreement with the publisher to keep her identity as the originator of Nancy Drew secret. Though her shrouded identity remained uncovered for years, she was finally revealed as the originator of the series when one of the publisher's daughters attempted to take credit and Keene was forced to testify in 1980. Working tirelessly well into her nineties, the tough writer wasn't slowed by failing eyesight, and even returned to her desk a day after being diagnosed with lung cancer in 1997. After going into semi-retirement in 2002 (at the age of 96), Benson died shortly after being struck ill at her Toledo Blade desk.