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The Cherry Ames Books

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The Cherry Ames books were a series of girls' stories published by Grosset and Dunlap in the 1940s, '50s, and '60s that featured a young nurse named Cherry. The earlier stories focus on Cherry's life in nursing school and as a military nurse. However, the remainder of the series featured Cherry in an amateur detective role, solving a new mystery every place she worked1. Cherry also 'played Cupid' in many of the books, creating schemes to get a couple together, to rekindle an estranged relationship, or to give a man a push to 'pop the question'. While Cherry has several devoted suitors2 herself throughout the series, she repeatedly chooses nursing over marriage3.

The Authors

The creator of the Cherry Ames series was Helen Wells, who wrote books 1-9 and 17-27. Books 10-16 were written by Julie Tatham.

Helen Wells grew up in rural Illinois, and used many events and settings from her life in the Cherry Ames series. She also created the Vicki Barr series, which was quite similar to the Cherry Ames books, except the main character was a flight attendant rather than a nurse.

Julie Tatham temporarily took over the writing of both the Cherry Ames and Vicki Barr series while Helen Wells took a break. A girls' series author in her own right, Julie Tatham also authored the Trixie Belden and Ginny Gordon books.

The Books

  1. Student Nurse
  2. Senior Nurse
  3. Army Nurse
  4. Chief Nurse
  5. Flight Nurse
  6. Veterans' Nurse
  7. Private Duty Nurse
  8. Visiting Nurse
  9. Cruise Nurse
  10. At Spencer
  11. Night Supervisor
  12. Mountaineer Nurse
  13. Clinic Nurse
  14. Dude Ranch Nurse
  15. Rest Home Nurse
  16. Country Doctor's Nurse
  17. Boarding School Nurse
  18. Department Store Nurse
  19. Camp Nurse
  20. At Hilton Hospital
  21. Island Nurse
  22. Rural Nurse
  23. Staff Nurse
  24. Companion Nurse
  25. Jungle Nurse
  26. The Mystery in the Doctor's Office
  27. Ski Nurse Mystery

The Extras

The Cherry Ames books were published across the globe by translating them into the local tongue and, in some cases, making them more culturally appropriate. The Cherry Ames books were especially popular in Britain, where the series also spawned a decade's worth of Cherry Ames Girls' Annuals. These annuals included both fiction and factual content.

Also published were the Cherry Ames Book of First Aid and Home Nursing and the Cherry Ames' Nursing Game, both of which sought to introduce girls to nursing as a career.

Cherry Ames Books as Collectibles

The first 22 Cherry Ames books were originally published as red hardback books with dustjackets that featured coloured illustrations and a yellow spine. The shade of red varied with the edition, beginning with red, then maroon, and finally a dusty red tweed. These books are considered more valuable to collectors than later editions, especially if the dustjackets are intact.

Beginning in the 1960s, the first 22 books were published as yellow hardback books with pictorial covers4. Also published in the '60s was an edition of green hardback books with pictorial covers - this is the only edition that includes the last five books in the series. The final two books are very difficult to find in good condition, and have been observed to sell for several hundred dollars in online auctions.

Some of the later books in the series were republished during the 1970s as paperbacks. These books had their titles changed to make them sound more like the more modern Nancy Drew-style mysteries.

1Cherry worked at a new place in each book - given that there were 27 books, you can see that she had quite a career history!2These men all have dashing names like Marius Lexington Upham and Wade Cooper.3These stories were written in the 'good old days', when marriage and a career were mutually exclusive for a woman.4These covers looked quite a bit like the dustjackets of the older versions.

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