Nancy is from a regular background, and not much of her past is delved into. Her mother died when she was younger (though this is not perpetuated in all media involving her) and she is raised by her father. She has the presence of her best friends in her amateur detective work, notably from Bess and George.
The character owes her first appearance in popular culture to the original medium in which she appeared, and first appeared in four novels in 1930, written by the creator of the Hardy Boys, Edward Stratemeyer. Her appearances in comics have not been as extensive, and her first appearance was in Nostalgia Illustrated #4 in 1975. Her first recurring appearances were not until 2005 when she had entered the public domain and was first featured in her own series.
The character can said to exhibit some evolution over the course of her appearances as they span several decades, and she has been subject to historical trends as well (for instance, recently being featured as a vampire hunter.)
She is notably a fairly progressive character for her time, and many notable women have stated that she was a role model for them while they were growing up.
Major Story Arcs
From her novels to her appearances in other media, her stories have generally been serialized, meaning that they are self contained and contain a limited amount of development between them. She has on occasion teamed up with the Hardy Boys.
Powers and Abilities
She has a cunning intellect with an inquisitive nature which makes her a master detective.
She has been featured in an assortment of media, including movies and television.