I made an unusual discovery a few years ago, there are legions and legions of readers across the world who adore the books of D.E.Stevenson and they are known as The Dessies.They have an online reading list and share their joy in her books and they are everywhere.
Dorothy Emily Stevenson was born in Edinburgh in 1892 and her father was the first cousin of Robert Louis Stevenson and grandson of the Robert Stevenson who built the Bell Rock Lighthouse.
You won't find many DES books in print and nor will you find many in second-hand bookshops because these have been largely written off as the trashy, lightweight reading of the early to mid part of the 20th century.
That pronouncement will rightly send a shudder through the ranks of the Dessies and I don't share the view either.Perhaps it's a lesson in how we should never write something off in that way because DES has left a legacy of social history in her novels, microcosms of life as it was then and viewed through a lens of her own.
Now I'm feeling generous so I'm going to let you into a secret.
If you find these for sale anywhere it will be in the old 1960's Fontana editions or tatty well thumbed hardbacks (DES books always come well-read) at jumble sales or in those boxes on the pavement outside the charity shops for about 10p each, buy the lot and you just might hit the jackpot.
Take a turn around abebooks and just see what some of her books are fetching today.
Check out Miss Buncle's Book on Amazon.
So now I've let the cat out of the bag.
I found some lurking in the box in our local hospital waiting room for 10p each to raise funds for equipment.I felt a bit bad (briefly) buying four which probably raised enough money to buy one of those rubber things to go on the end of a crutch when the books could possibly be worth enough to buy a whole crutch, perhaps even a pair.
Now I've checked out the prices there could be enough copies in boxes in hospital waiting rooms across the land to clear the NHS debt.
I've only read a few and yes agreed, the writing and the subject matter may be not of our time, but they are endearing,enlightening and thereby good relaxing reads all the same and the best by far for me has been Miss Buncle's Book. I can't bring myself to tell you what I had to pay on abebooks for this tatty old Fontana edition.
Times are hard in the village of Silverstream for Miss Buncle so she turns her hand to novel writing and no one is more surprised than she when Disturber of the Peace is accepted for publication under the pseudonym of John Smith and then becomes a runaway best seller.
There is a small problem, Miss Buncle has used her village and its inhabitants, all very thinly disguised, as her material.Soon word spreads around the village and there is uproar as the residents start to recognize themselves and all their foibles and then point the finger at all the wrong suspects.Of course not at Miss Buncle because after all, she's a single woman of very small brain.
I've read a couple more excellent DES books amongst them Amberwell, one of the most heart-wrenching delinations of neglected children of wealthy parents in the 1930's that you could ever read.
Dorothy Stevenson definitely still worth looking out for.