The Front Door 1940 Mary Dawson Elwell © Bradford Museums and Galleries/PCF
PREFACE BY FIONA BEVAN
Miss Buncle’s Book, Persephone Book No. 81, is about a woman who writes a novel about Silverstream, the village where she lives, under the pseudonym John Smith, and is then involved in the comedy as her neighbours try to discover the identity of the viper in their midst. Eventually she is forced to leave, and having married her publisher Arthur Abbott, moves to his house in Hampstead. The Abbotts then move out of London, which is when Miss Buncle Married, begins. Early on Arthur thinks: ‘But I really hope, in a way, that [Barbara] won’t want to write ... because this place is delightful – simply charming – and if she starts writing about our neighbours, we shall most probably have to leave Wandlebury – just as she had to leave Silverstream – in a hurry.’
DE Stevenson’s great-granddaughter Fiona Bevan writes in the Persephone Afterword: ‘It is the truthful depiction of people, and the exposure of their faults, that makes Barbara’s writing dangerous.’ For, although witty and readable, DE Stevenson can be sharp and caustic, indeed occasionally verges on the cruel when she lampoons some of her characters. However, she is also intensely sympathetic to the less fortunate, for example the reader knows that Miss Foddy, the governess to the neighbouring children, faces a bleak future where ‘it is so extremely difficult for a woman of my age and uncertified qualifications to find a post‘ and DE Stevenson never forgets ‘the potentially bleak outlook for women who cannot marry into a secure life.’ Yet despite moments of seriousness, Miss Buncle Married is overall a funny, touching and interesting novel that most Persephone readers will enjoy very much.
Also available as a Persephone e-book
A 1936 Liberty's printed cotton crepe dress fabric.