Author D.E. Stevenson
|by C.J. Chase|
With a deadline of the day before Halloween (does that make October 30 All Hallow’s Eve eve?), I considered tying my post in with the holiday. But how to do that? Horror? It’s a genre I avoid. I think I’ve read one book and seen nary a movie that could meet such a classification. (Oh, the horror!) Well, then maybe a discussion of fantasy creates that appear in fiction and mythology such as unicorns and minotaurs and dragons. Except, while I have somewhat more familiarity with them than horror, fantasy is still not a favorite of mine. Well, then, what about a post on villains? Oh, yeah, already did that...
Then the other day my youngest was rummaging through the bookcase and pulled out a worn, dog-eared novel by D. E. Stevenson. Oh, the memories that flooded my mind of gentle stories set in a now-gone era. And then followed an idea for a Fiction Wednesday post. Good-bye Halloween theme. (In truth, it wasn’t a sacrifice for me. I’ve never been a big fan of Halloween. I mean, a “holiday” where we put kids in ghoulish costumes and send them to extort candy from strangers under threat of doing mischief if people don’t comply? What are we trying to do – raise a generation whose highest ambition is to become IRS agents?)
|publicity photo of D.E. Stevenson|
Stevenson married a British officer, James Reid Peploe, in 1916 while he was coalescing from wounds sustained in WWI. Her first novel, Peter West, published in 1923, was not well received, and it would be nearly 10 years before she published a second. Talk about second book blues! However, the success of Mrs. Tim of the Regiment (1932, based in large part on her diaries as a military wife) turned her into a full-time author.
I’ve never seen a reason why she published under her maiden name. Was it because an officer whose wife became a (horrors!) novelist would have caused all sorts of awkwardness in class-conscious Britain? Or did her publisher or Ms. Stevenson herself prefer to emphasize her connection to the even more famous Stevenson author, Robert Louis Stevenson (her father’s first cousin)?
I’ve read perhaps a quarter of Stevenson’s books. Finding them can be a challenge. Libraries may have some (alas, my local library only has two – and yes, I’ve already read them). Used copies offered on the internet often run in the $10 to $20 range, though first editions of her most popular works can list for much more. Fortunately, I’m not the only fan, and some books have been re-released in the past several years, including inexpensive Kindle versions.
If you like early to mid-twentieth century British settings populated with interesting characters, Stevenson is an author you might want to try.
Do you sometimes read "old," out-of-print books by now-gone authors? Do you have any favorites (authors or books) you'd like to share?