Mildred Wirt Benson


"My hunch is that Mildred Wirt Benson, through her writings, has touched more people's lives, both in and beyond Iowa, than any other Iowa-born author."
—Kenneth Starck, 1993

Mildred Wirt Benson, born in Ladora, Iowa in 1905, published her first story at the age of 12 and became the first woman to earn an M.A. in journalism from the University of Iowa in 1927. She has written more than 130 published books but is most noted as the first writer of the Nancy Drew series, carrying her independent spirit into the development of Nancy Drew as a strong female character and role model for three generations of women. She worked as a reporter for the Toledo Times from 1944 to 1975 and since then as a reporter/columnist for The Blade. A pilot as well, Benson was recognized in the 1947 edition of Who's Who in Aviation, American Women for her aviation columns for the Blade. She has been recognized with numerous writing awards and received the University of Iowa Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award in 1994. She is a member of the Iowa School of Journalism and Mass Communication Hall of Fame and the Ohio Women's Hall of Fame. Benson was inducted into the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame in 1994.  

UPDATE: Benson is the recipient of the Ohio Newspaper Women's Association Life Achievement Award and the Blades Lifetime Achievement Award, the first-ever given by the newspaper. Benson died on May 28, 2002.