D. E. Stevenson's Invisible Library

The Invisible Library (now sadly invisible on the internet) was a website of non-existent books, found only in other books. But here is DES's own Invisible Library.

Discerning DES characters read lots of real books, but here are the books that exist only within the World of DES. And most of them are written by DES characters.

Thanks to the Dessies for collective book suggestions.

Be sure to also visit
Invisible Cinema and Miles Blackworth's thrillers and Janetta Walters' Books and
Jane Chevis Cobbe's Historical Novels
new editions

Jane Harcourt's Historical Romances

Jane Harcourt, the youngest of Anna and her Daughters, worked as an assistant to historical biographer Augusta Millard, and subsequently wrote a series of popular historical romances, set in the 17th Century. Her first, published when she was barely out of her teens, was The Mulberry Coach.

To quote Jane when she described it to her London friends, "It's about a duel and an elopement and a marriage at Gretna Green." And it's pure. "It's quite suitable for Aunt Fanny's birthday -- but you should read it yourself, first."

The Mulberry Coach was later adapted as a play, with the heroine's name changed from Agnes to Angela, and was put on to great success (and several cast changes) by the Shepherdsford Dramatic Society in The Musgraves.
*** Invisible No More***
As of November 2011, The Mulberry Coach is now an actual published story by D. E. Stevenson, in the collection Portrait of Saskia from Greyladies

The Biography of Lady Esmeralda Pie

by Augusta Millard

Augusta Millard, Jane Harcourt's employer and mentor in Anna and her Daughters, has written a number of historical biographies.

"The adventures of Lady Esmeralda Pie make very amusing reading," she tells Jane. "She was a baggage; there's no other word for her."

Lady Esmeralda's background was no less interesting than herself; it was a colourful picture of luxury and squalor. Armies of servants thronged the great houses; coaches rumbled up to the doors. Huge meals were eaten at tables laden with silver and lit by candles; there was drinking and gambling and duelling. Highwaymen frequented lonely roads and footpads lurked in the streets. Thieves were hanged and crowds gathered to see the grisly entertainment. (Chapter 7 of Anna and her Daughters.]

Mr. Senture's Book

During the final year of the first World War, Charlotte Dean's bleak existence was lightened a little by the arrival of a curious old man who visited Hinkleton to research the architecture and stained glass of her father's church for a book he was writing.

The church, says Charlotte, is of grey stone, beautiful and simple and bare. and the windows are of that clear, transparent glass which transmute the sunbeams to shafts of jewelled light.

"The book was eventually published and I have often wondered whether he made any money for his invalid wife. I loved the book, of course, but it would not appeal to a wide public, I'm afraid."

From The Young Clementina, 1935 (also published as Miss Dean's Dilemma and Divorced from Reality. )

Veronica's First Term

In Music in the Hills, fourteen-year-old Eleanor is neglected by her mother and bullied by her father and has too many romantic notions. Finally, Mamie takes the bull by the horns and tells Eleanor's mother, Lady Shaw that her daughter needs attention and, frankly, an education. So she is to be sent to school.

But Eleanor is wary about school, and discusses it with her friend James.

"I don't know," said Eleanor doubtfully. "Hollly gave me a book called Veronica's First Term and I've been reading it this afternoon. One of the girls stole a pair of gloves from another girl and one of the mistresses found them in Veronica's drawer, right at the back and all covered up with linen, so of course everybody thought--"

"That's nonsense!" declared James stoutly.

Anne Selby's Book

Anne Selby (one of the Ayrton children from Amberwell ) is a single mother, cast off by her parents for making an ill-advised marriage and barely making ends meet in wartime England. When she writes a book about her childhood home, Amberwell, for her daughter Emmie, it is published and becomes a mildly popular success, bringing in just enough money to ease their lot a little, along with a satisfactory secondary benefit.

Disturber of the Peace

Of course no Invisible Library is complete without Miss Buncle's infamous book in the eponymous Miss Buncle's Book.

Miss Buncle, a respectable spinster living in the even more respectable village of Silverstream, is suffering from reduced circumstances, due to the reality of the Depression. She must have money somehow. The faithful Dorcas doesn't like the idea of keeping chickens, so Miss B turns her hand to writing. As one does.

Stumped for inspiration, she bases her story on her own neighbours, only slightly disguised, and trouble--of course--ensues.

Miles Blackworth's Thrillers

In Five Windows, David Kirke's old school friend Miles decides that if David can make money writing, so can he. He'll write the kind of books he loves to read -- thrillers. So he starts right away ("writing is easy," both Miles and David contend).

He hands over the first few chapters of Ralph's Progress to David to read. David is unimpressed with his story, his style, his hero. They remind him of Peter Cheyney.

We don't hear about Miles's future success, but I like to think he made it as a hard-boiled guy writer.

Picture Credits

The Mulberry Coach
A Wayside Passenger (detail) by George Goodwin Kilburne (1839-1925) Yes, I know, 19th rather than 17th century. But you know those cover artists.

Lady Esmeralda Pie
Attributed to Sir Peter Lely (1618 - 1680 London), Portrait of a Lady, said to be Lady Anne Hyde, Duchess of York

Mr. Senture's book
is pretty much made up, since neither the title nor the precise topic, nor his first name, is revealed. Nor do we know the precise county where Charlotte and Garth grew up, but Char and Mr. Senture went over to Canterbury one day to see the cathedral, so I'm guessing Kent. The picture is Canterbury Cathedral.

Veronica's First Term
This cover is actually Peggy's First Term by May Wynne, a prolific school story author in the first half of the 20th century.

Anne's Book
We never learn the title of the book, nor under what author name, if any, it was published (not her own name, for certain) but in Summerhills, we learn the book cover features the fountain from the Amberwell gardens. Thus, this cover art is taken from the Collins 1955 first edition of Amberwell, by Peter Newington.

Miles's Thrillers
Peter Cheyney's books, of course.
Left to right: Dark Duet, Uneasy Terms, It Couldn't Matter Less

Miss Buncle's Book
Disturber of the Peace
by John Smith is described as having a cover very much like the first edition of Miss Buncle's Book, 1934, from Herbert Jenkins.


His Wonderful Pal

In Miss Buncle's Book , Arthur Abbott and Barbara Buncle enjoy a first date-cum-business talk which includes lunch at the Berkeley followed by an afternoon at the cinema, featuring His Wonderful Pal.

Mr. Abbott is stupendously bored at the amazing production, and is glad to note that Miss Buncle is also bored. He is glad, not because he likes to bore his guests with stupendous productions, but because it shows unmistakably that Miss Buncle is the right woman.

They're both happy to leave before the picture is over.


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The film poster is borrowed from King Solomon's Mines (1937). Note, the director is Robert Stevenson.