Friday, August 24, 2018

AT LAST!: New Furrowed Middlebrow titles from Dean Street Press, coming soon

Well, it's been a bit longer coming than we originally anticipated, but I can finally announce (whew!) that a new batch of Furrowed Middlebrow books is in preparation from Dean Street Press. Nine new titles in all, due in January 2019!

And what an exciting batch of titles it is. I'm thrilled that we'll be publishing books by two of my absolute favorite authors:

One is an old favorite, the discovery of whom via Persephone Books nearly a decade ago helped to direct me to the focus of this blog. The other is a more recent discovery, the kind of glorious find that keeps me blogging and sifting and sneezing my way through dusty, mildewy old books to unearth more forgotten treasures.

The first author was a bestseller in her day, and her gradual rediscovery over the course of the past decade has been a bright spot in the often bleak landscape of contemporary publishing. The other is about as utterly forgotten as one could imagine—even her nearest heirs had no idea she had published novels!

But enough teasing.


The first author, as some of you may have guessed already, is none other than D. E. STEVENSON, whose marvelous Miss Buncle's Book is one of my 10 favorite books of all time. The Miss Buncle series has been reprinted by both Persephone in the UK and Sourcebooks in the US, with other DES titles available in various formats from several publishers.


But then there's that other series for which Stevenson is best known—the funny, sweet, and lightly autobiographical Mrs Tim series, comprised of Mrs Tim of the Regiment, Mrs Tim Carries On, Mrs Tim Gets a Job, and Mrs Tim Flies Home. These are books to have with you on a desert island. Or on vacation. Or perhaps on vacation to a desert island. They can be read time and again without any diminishing of their pleasure. My bias is in favor of the wartime Mrs Tim Carries On, but in truth I adore them all.







Some of you will know already that Bloomsbury reprinted the first volume, Mrs Tim of the Regiment, several years ago, and that title is still in print. But inexplicably they never proceeded with the other three books, which have become more and more difficult to find and are sometimes prohibitively expensive if you can find them. But no more! All three will be released by Dean Street Press in January of 2019.


But that's not all for the DESsies among you. We'll also be reprinting another profoundly underrated Stevenson novel from the World War II years. 1942's Spring Magic is a cheerful, funny, sweet romance set primarily in an idyllic coastal village in Scotland. I read it for the first time early this year, on the recommendation of resident DES expert Jerri Chase, and it now ranks just behind the Miss Buncle and Mrs Tim books among my all-time favorite Stevenson titles.


And finally, for DES collectors and purists, perhaps the most exciting news is that we'll be reprinting (for the first time in more than 80 years!) the complete first edition text of Smouldering Fire, the Stevenson novel that has probably been more abused and mistreated by publishers than any other. It was first published in the UK in 1935 and in the US in 1938. Until now, however, those were the only complete editions of the book. All later reprints, both hardcover and paperback, have been heavily abridged, with entire chapters as well as occasional passages throughout the novel cut from the text. Ugh, why do publishers do such things? DESsies have bemoaned this problem for decades, but for our new edition, we have followed the text of the first U.K. edition, so will attempt to put to rights the indignities the book has been submitted to!

And a big additional thanks to Jerri for actually lending her impossibly rare copy of the UK first edition of Smouldering Fire for us to work from (not to mention her copy of the US first edition of Spring Magic), as well as scanning some of the wonderful dustjackets from her copies, which I'm using in this post. I'm happy to say that both of Jerri's books have made their way safely home again after their vacation in San Francisco. Thank you again for your generosity, Jerri, and your infinite knowledge of DES, upon which I've relied a great deal in the past few months.

That makes five D. E. Stevenson titles in all. Which leaves four more coming attractions...

It's not surprising that many of the books I choose to reprint have appeared in my "Furrowed Middlebrow Dozen" posts from past years, but it's always satisfying to see a title move from being a favorite new read of the year to being back in print (most of my favorite reads being, as you well know, out of print). The brilliant ELIZABETH ELIOT ranked at #4 in 2016's year-end list with her final novel, Cecil. (As it happens, we've already reprinted #1 and #7 from that year…) I devoted two whole posts that year to my obsessive reading of Eliot (see here and here), and am now delighted that we're reprinting four of her inimitable novels—Alice (1949), Henry (1950), Mrs Martell (1953), and the aforementioned Cecil (1962).





I was recently looking back at all four of these delightful novels, and was nearly swept into re-reading them, despite all the other books (and a number of other things) awaiting my attention. Lady Eliot forms a sharp contrast with D. E. Stevenson, and perhaps has more in common with the gleeful morbidity of Barbara Comyns than the comforting wit and wisdom of DES. One of my tasks when we're preparing these books for publication is to draft the cover descriptions, and I always like to open with a short, attention-grabbing quotation from each novel. While attempting to decide on these from an array of funny, dark, and quirky possibilities, I came across this passage from Henry which seemed to capture the quintessentially off-balance nature of Eliot's heroines:

'The trouble with you, Anne, is that you're always imagining things.' Who had said that? Probably mother. Or the governess before she left to get married. How disagreeable, and it was all the fault of the sub-conscious. … Why didn't the sub-conscious ever turn up things like: 'Anne, how beautiful you are looking today.' Or even: 'That's a good girl finishing up all your dinner.'

There are shades of other authors in Eliot's work, but ultimately she is entirely her own unique and brilliant creation.

So there, those are our nine new titles. We're hard at work finalizing covers at the moment (with some lovely cover images, if I do say so myself), and I should be able to preview those for you in the next two or three weeks. I'm so happy to be able to finally announce these, and hope you'll be looking forward to reading them!

52 comments:

  1. Wonderful news, I am looking forward to the hard to find but lovely DES reissues and the Eliot books sound interesting.

    And now I don't have to try to keep my mouth shut about it!

    Jerri

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  2. I can't wait for the two new to me D.E. Stevenson's (Spring Magic and Smouldering Fire! I already have old 50's copies of the Mrs. Tim books, but I may buy new reading copies!

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    1. Thanks, Kathy, and so glad you'll get to read two DES books you haven't read before!

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  3. OMG OMG OMG I am VERY happy you are reprinting Mrs Tim as I have read the Bloomsbury one then was v sad not to find the others. Whee!

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    1. Glad you're pleased, Lyz. You have a treat in store!

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  4. Will these new publications be available in ebook format as well as hard copy? I am hoping!!!
    Virginia Guilford

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    1. Yes, all of our books are available in paperback and e-book.

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  5. So excited about the D.E. Stevenson books...can't wait!

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  6. Oh oh oh oh oh!!! Oh joy!!!
    Scott, you dreamboat!! Jerri, you old dark horse! (Jerri knows what I mean.)
    I am so happy. I was just wishing I had ebook copies of Mrs Tims, so I could carry them about with me while doing our discussions.
    I am so looking forward to getting them.

    (And when I went to the DSP website just now, I see that the Dancing Bear was available for free download this week. Thanks for that, too.)

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    1. Glad you're pleased Susan! Yes, I love having e-books on my Kindle even if I have the physical books too. You never know when you'll need to turn to Mrs Tim for advice!

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  7. Blessings on you and Dean Street Press! What a gift to a waiting world!

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  8. Oh Great Joy!
    I've been checking the Dean Street website regularly for news and will really look forward to the DES books.

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    1. Thanks for your patience, Sue! Glad you're pleased.

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  9. SOmeone already wrote it, but - OMG OMG OMG OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Scott, I am imagining ALL the Dessies sint he world thank you, and many many kudos to our dear Jerri for being "the muse!"
    I am so looking forward, and plan to use all my Christmas tips (if any) for these titles!
    In your honor, I will ever try one (AKA buy one) at least of Elizabeth Scott's titles.
    THANKS AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    As the Thirkellites among us will know, "BOG! Which joy!"
    Tom

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    1. Thanks, Tom! No idea what the Thirkell reference means, though?

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  10. Wonderful out of all whooping, to quote from a DES novel.

    Geraldine

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  11. I have been longing for Spring Magic to be reprinted!! My copy has fallen to pieces...thank you and looking forward to more to come!



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    1. It's hard to believe that one hasn't been reprinted already, isn't it? Such a lovely book.

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  12. Another DESsie here -- this is fabulous news!! Thank you so much!! I will look forward to buying all of these! :)

    Lori (Loribeth)

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  13. Excellent news. I have the Mrs Tim ones in hb but so glad you are spreading the word. Thank you.

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  14. FANTASTIC NEWS! I adore the Mrs Tim books and have lamented for years that no one has brought them back into print. I can't wait! And my copies of the other titles are so old and battered than new ones will be a great improvement. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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    1. I know, I've been sort of in disbelief ever since the Bloomsbury edition of the first book came out. How could they leave everyone hanging? Thanks for your enthusiasm, Claire!

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  15. This makes me so happy! I only discovered the other DSP Furrowed Middlebrow titles last December, and spent the post-Christmas lull in January and February reading them in a hammock under the wisteria (I started with The Lark). Now I have some new titles to escape into this summer - can't wait!

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    1. Thank you, Bonnie! Oh to be reading in a hammock right now...

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  16. I cannot wait for this! I too discovered DES through Persephone and Miss Buncle, was then able to find a few others on Kindle (the Drumberley books) but irritatingly couldn’t buy so many more because I live in the antipodes and their copyright was limited to UK addresses.

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    1. You shouldn't have any problem getting these, Gina. Glad to feed your DES addiction!

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  17. Good-oh! Well done you and Dean Street. Really something to look forward to!

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  18. So excited about the DES titles, Scott. I've never read the wartime Mrs Tim or SM & SF & I'm looking forward to them very much. Elizabeth Eliot is new to me but if yiu're a fan, I'll enjoy discovering her.

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    1. Glad to be giving you some new reading, Lyn! I know your TBR list is always running out... :-)

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  19. I have just, this month, read my first Mrs Tim (of the Regiment) and am so pleased to read your news here. I might have time to move a few books out of my apartment and into the garage so that I shall have space for new ones.

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    1. The eternal conundrum--finding space for one's books. But I'm glad our new books will be making the cut!

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  20. Delighted to hear Mrs Tim Carries is to come back into print. The last time I checked the cheapest second-hand copy was £35.

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    1. Thanks, Michelle Ann! Yes, and the prices can go up steeply from there.

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  21. I do love DES and especially Mrs. Tim! Also recently enjoyed Chelsea Concerto - would not have known about it except for you, Scott!

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    1. Thanks, Constance! So glad you liked Chelsea Concerto.

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  22. I am so excited! I already own ALICE but will be buying ALL the rest of these. :)

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  23. I have been checking into your past posts on Elizabeth Eliot, and see that novel of hers that sounded most interesting to me is the one you are NOT intending to reissue. Starter's Orders. I know you liked it the least of her 5 novels, but was there another reason why you limited yourself to 4 of the 5 novels?

    I know with DES you can't publish her entire body of work, she has so MANY novels, not counting the poetry books.

    I will have to decide which Eliot novel to start with, since it can't be Starter's Orders. But there is still far too long till January, so I have time.

    Jerri

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    1. You're like me, Jerri--I'm always tempted by the ones I can't get hold of. But I'll tell you what Nicola Beauman said years ago when I bemoaned the fact that Persephone hadn't reprinted the other novels by Winifred Watson: "You're not missing much."

      (Though I confess that didn't stop me wanting to try one, as you'll see in an upcoming post...)

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  24. Brilliant work Scott! Can't wait....

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  25. I'm so excited for the D. E. Stenson books!!

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  26. Such wonderful news! I have been waiting and waiting for the rest of the Mrs. Tim books - they are my favorites! And I have always loved Smouldering Fire, even the controversial part. I have all of these books in hard copy, but reading on a Kindle is so much easier for me these days that I want them all on Kindle as well!

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  27. Wonderful news! Spring Magic is a favorite and of course the Mrs. Tim books. Smouldering Fire less so, but still - it's DES! Can't wait to get them all in e-format.

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  28. I'm reading "Alice" at the moment and Barbara Comyns definitely sprang to mind, so I'm pleased to see you thought so, too! Review to appear on my blog today or tomorrow; I've already reviewed "Spring Magic" as I hope you've seen.

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