The Secret in the Old Attic

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The Secret in the Old Attic
Original edition cover
Author Carolyn Keene
Cover artist Russell H. Tandy
Country United States
Language English
Series Nancy Drew Mystery Stories
Genre Juvenile literature
Publisher Grosset & Dunlap
Publication date
1944, 1970
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 180
ISBN 0-448-09521-1
Preceded by The Clue in the Jewel Box
Followed by The Clue in the Crumbling Wall

The Secret in the Old Attic is the twenty-first volume in the Nancy Drew Mystery Stories series. It was first published in 1944 under the pseudonym Carolyn Keene.[1] The actual author was ghostwriter Mildred Wirt Benson.

Plot summary - 1944 edition[edit]

Nancy searches for clues to missing music manuscripts written by deceased soldier Philip March. March's daughter and his father, living together on the family estate, are rapidly running out of money, and believe some of "Fipp's" music is being sold and played on the radio. Nancy goes to the estate to investigate, with the assistance of Bess and George. In the meantime, her father's client solicits her aid in his investigation of a rival company, which seems to be manufacturing silk cloth using his patented methods. In the meantime, the girls are all planning to attend an Emerson College dance, except for Nancy; Ned doesn't seem to be interested. Could Diane Dight, rich daughter of the owner of the Dight firm, which Nancy is investigating, have turned Ned's head? And what is Bushy Trott, manic scientist, doing at the Dight plant?

Nancy continues trying to solve both mysteries, discovering hidden songs in the process. All the while, she tries unsuccessfully to shed few tears over Ned, who seems frequently to be in the company of the snobbish socialite Diane. The resolution of both cases and her romantic plight are quite climactic.

1970 revision[edit]

The revised version, still in print, is a condensed version of the original story. It is shorter by five chapters, and includes Diane Dight, but not the romantic subplot of the original edition.[citation needed]


Collectors of the series seem to greatly enjoy the original art by Russell H. Tandy, which depicts Nancy among highly Gothic elements, by candlelight, in the old attic. In 1962, Rudy Nappi gave Nancy a modern flip hairstyle and changed the color to red, and altered her shirtwaist wrap dress to a generic red sailor-style dress for the cover art.[2] In 1970, Nappi updated his art, employing a shadowy apple green color motif and Gothic elements, including the skeletal hand, to showcase Nancy, looking very much like Barbara Eden in a coatfront shift, with a candle.[3] This cover plays heavily on the spooky elements popular during the "Dark Shadows" era.