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Clue of the Silken Ladder

Mildred A. Wirt (Benson)

Giving Louise no opportunity to protest, Penny boldly peered behind the counter. "Here it is," she whispered. "But what is it?" Hidden in a pasteboard box lay coil upon coil of what appeared to be fine, black silk rope. Curiously, she lifted it up, exposing a network of crossbars. "Well of all things!" she exclaimed, "It's a ladder, Lou! A ladder made of silk!"

Clue of the Silken Ladder is the fifth in the seventeen-book Penny Parker Mystery Stories, written by Mildred A. Wirt. This title was copyrighted in 1941 by Cupples & Leon Company, an early publisher of series fiction for boys and girls. Like Nancy Drew (many of whose books were written by Mildred A. Wirt under the pseudonym of Carolyn Keene), Penny Parker had a natural talent for stumbling into mysteries and a fearless determination to solve them. This adventure mixes a pawn shop, an inheritance, a bell tower, and séances full of special effects.

Mildred A. Wirt (Mildred Augustine Wirt Benson, 1905-2002) didn’t get to see her name on most of the scores of youth series books she wrote during her long life and career. With the Penny Parker series she was able to use her own name and she often said this was her favorite series. Penny is even more irrepressible than Nancy Drew, probably because the Penny Parker series was not under control of the Stratemeyer Syndicate. The famous Stratemeyer Syndicate produced many of the popular youth series in the early twentieth century and insisted on pseudonyms for the authors of their books, enforced by strict legal contracts of secrecy with their faceless authors. However, Benson is now established as the author of 23 of the first 30 Nancy Drew mysteries and was largely responsible for developing Nancy’s persona, one of a confident, independent, fearless girl, a personality that was also typical of her other series characters. She wrote all or some of the following series: Nancy Drew, Kay Tracey, Penny Parker, Dana Girls, Penny Nichols, Ruth Darrow, Madge Sterling, Ruth Fielding, and Dan Carter, among others, including non-series titles. In all she contributed to over a dozen series and wrote over 130 titles.

Book publisher: New York: Cupples and Leon Company
Book copyright: 1941
Book edition: Reprint, circa 1946
Pages: 207
Size: 5″ x 7-5/8″
Dust jacket: Yes
Illustrations: frontispiece
Back matter: none
Digital edition © 2017, 2022 Curtis Philips. All Rights Reserved.

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