DE Stevenson novels published long after author's death
- 5 May 2011
- From the section South Scotland
Two "new" novels by Scots author DE Stevenson are being published nearly 40 years after her death.
The manuscripts were found by one of the writer's granddaughters among family belongings stored in an attic.
One of the stories, The Fair Miss Fortune, was submitted to publishers Hodder and Stoughton in 1938.
It was rejected, apparently because the subject matter - the antics of identical twins - was considered too old fashioned.
The other manuscript is thought to date back to the 1920s. Stevenson's title for it was The Strong Thing but it has been re-named Emily Dennistoun after the main character.
Publisher Shirley Neilson, of Greyladies Books in Edinburgh, snapped up the rights to both novels.
"It's the sort of thing that publishers' dreams are made of," she said.
"She sold millions of books worldwide in her lifetime, is still sought after in the second-hand market, and you wish there were more.
"Then, suddenly, an e-mail out of the blue from DE Stevenson's granddaughter saying she'd just found some old manuscripts in the attic and would I like to publish them. It's absolutely fantastic."
Edinburgh-born Dorothy Emily Stevenson was a prolific writer of mainly light romance and had about 50 books published in her lifetime. In her day, she was an international best seller and she still has a worldwide following. Her fans are called "Dessies".
Two of them have just been on pilgrimage to Moffat in Dumfriesshire where Stevenson spent the last 33 years of her life. They attended the unveiling of a plaque to mark the house where she lived.
"I just love the books. She is special and the people who like her books are special," said Jerri Chase, from Arkansas in the United States.
"They combine humour with a moral structure which are the values of a Scottish gentlewoman."
Fellow Dessie, Laura Bodon-Campbell from California, agreed.
"Everyone can identify with something in her books," she said.
Members of Stevenson's family are amazed by her enduring popularity. Her daughter, Rosemary Swallow, remembers how her mother worked.
"She would sit down on the sofa, put her legs up and light a cigarette," she said.
"She had a special writing board, a wooden board covered in green baize and she would just carry on writing whatever was going on around her.
"She was very, very good at character writing. There's no rude sex or anything like that, just a good yarn with a beginning, a middle and an end."
And Stevenson's granddaughter Wendy Simpson, who still lives in Moffat, said: "I think now that I am older I am coming to her more.
"I find her very comforting.
"If I am very tired, or I am ill then I pick up one of her books, I immerse myself in it and immediately everything is right with the world.
"Because in her world, everything really was happy."
Rosemary and Wendy are looking forward to the publication of the two new novels this weekend with anticipation and pride - but probably not with as much sheer excitement as the Dessies.
"It's wonderful - we can hardly wait to read something that we never thought would be found," said Ms Bodon-Campbell.
Her friend Ms Chase agreed: "Reading a new DE Stevenson book for the first time is something I haven't done for many years and so I'm thrilled!"