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Iowa is not Ohio

When this Iowan transplanted to Ohio in 1927 she worked as a ghost writer and helped to create some of the best known series of books for young readers of the time. Working for a man who wanted to sell paperbacks inexpensively, she wrote hundreds of books using different pseudonyms for each series. It wasn't until she was in her 80’s that she won the rights to have her name attached to the stories she wrote all those years ago. Her name is Mildred Wirt-Benson and she wrote the Nancy Drew series.

Mildred Wirt-Benson grew up on a farm with her father, who was a doctor, and her mother who took care of the home, but who also played piano and dabbled in writing herself. Benson knew she wanted to be a writer at a young age and even sold a story at the age of 14 to a Christian magazine titled St. Nicholas. After an unproductive year in New York, Benson went back to Iowa and attended graduate school after which she married Asa Wirt. Asa, who worked for the AP, soon took a job in Cleveland, Ohio. It was at this time that Benson was offered a paying job to write for a company as a ghostwriter.

Asa passed away in 1947, 6 years after his transfer to Toledo, Ohio. Mildred Wirt stayed and continued working for what is now known as the Toledo Blade. She married George Benson, also from the newspaper, in 1950. This marriage was short-lived as he passed in 1959. Benson remained active with both writing for the paper and achieving new goals, such as learning to fly a plane when she was 60 years old. Mildred Wirt-Benson wrote her last column on May 30, 2002 at the age of 96.

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