D. E. (Dorothy Emily) Stevenson was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, into a well-known family, and was educated at home by governesses. Robert Louis Stevenson was her father's cousin. D. E. began writing as a child but had to hide her efforts because her parents disapproved.
Her father also refused to send her to university. In 1913, D.E. came out as a debutante, and two years later published her first book of poetry. In 1914, she married James Reid Peploe, a young captain on leave to recuperate from wounds he received in World War I, with whom she had four children. In 1923 her first novel, Peter West, was published. It was not a success, and she did not publish fiction for the next few years. She was keeping a diary, and one day in the early 1930s, allowed a friend to read it. This woman urged D.E. to publish, and so began the semi-autobiographical series of "Mrs. Tim" novels published between 1934 and 1952, the first being Mrs. Tim of the Regiment.
For the rest of her long career, D.E. Stevenson steadily wrote bestsellers that still delight readers today. She wrote humorous and serious books and even ventured into science fiction. During World War II, she wrote novels such as The Two Mrs. Abbotts (1943) that featured wartime food shortages, German spies, romantic entanglements, and childrearing. After the war, she published several novels that dealt prominently with postwar changes in society, including Mrs. Tim Gets a Job (1947), Kate Hardy (1947), Young Mrs. Savage (1948), Vittoria Cottage (1949), and Summerhills (1956). Five works were published posthumous after the manuscripts were discovered in the Stevenson family attic, including
Jean Erskine's Secret, written 1913-1917;
Emily Dennistoun and Portrait of Saskia, written in the 1920s; and The Fair Miss Fortune, written in the 1930s.