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Stella & Rose's Books

Specialists in Rare & collectable books

a day at the races

No, it's not about the great Marx Brothers film of the same name, but a look at Horses and Horseracing.

Horseracing as a sport can trace its history back to ancient Babylon, Syria and Egypt as well as the Chariot Racing of Ancient Rome.

Over the decades there have been many famous horses such as Arkle, Golden Miller, Red Rum and Desert Orchid, that have passed into legend even among non race-goers.

Red Rum won his 1st Grand National race at Aintree where he came from 30 lengths behind, to finally beat his rival Crisp by three quarters of a length in what many consider to have been the greatest Grand National in history. Red Rum went onto win an unprecedented three Grand Nationals in total.

(Published 1st Oct 2012) Read full article

Swans & Cygnets at Tintern - June 2006

Below are some photographs of the new cygnets accompanied by their proud parents on the River Wye outside Stella Books (June 2006):-

(Published 1st Jun 2012) Read full article

Miles Davis - A Short Biography

Miles Davis was born into a musical family on May 25th 1926, in Illinois, USA. Given a trumpet by his father on his 13th birthday, his talent with the instrument would lead to him becoming known as a ‘musical genius’. He would also use his talent to incorporate the flugelhorn and keyboards. A composer as well as a player, he has a reputation as one of the greatest leaders in the history of jazz.

Davis attended the prestigious Julliard School of Music in New York where he developed his talents further. Following this he started his recording career by joining Charlie 'Bird' Parker, with whom he had previously played in the Billy Eckstine Band. During 1947 Davis came top in a DownBeat poll and continued to play and record with many greats of jazz, including Dizzy Gillespie, Max Roach, Illinois Jacquet and Gerry Mulligan.

(Published 1st Jan 2012) Read full article

Art Blakey - A Short Biography

Art Blakey was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on October 11th 1919. He was a leading American jazz drummer and band leader and is partly credited with creating the post bop or hard bop era of jazz.

Until the age of 11 Blakey was a self-taught pianist, even playing in clubs. However, at the age of 13, during the gig he was playing, Errol Garner took over from him at piano and Blakey was told to play the drums. This was the start of a long and influential career as a jazz drummer.

As a budding drummer Blakey was tutored by the best in his field – serving as Chick Webb’s valet.

On returning to his home town Blakey formed his own band, teaming up with pianist Mary Lou Williams. From there on he played for and with the best. He spent 3 years touring with Fletcher Henderson, spent a subsequent year in Boston and then joined Billy Eckstine’s band, where he played alongside the greats of jaz, including Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk.

(Published 1st Jan 2012) Read full article


Advertising.... It's everywhere, it surrounds us, we are pursued by it all our waking hours (and no doubt some of our sleeping hours too!) If we try to escape by fast forwarding a recorded TV programme, the images still flicker across the screen and seep into our subconcious. Who has not found themselves humming a tune with no idea of the title or composer, only the product it advertised? While some advertisements are true works of art, some being memorable and others truly forgettable, all of them have a specific objective – to persuade us to buy, or in some way participate in, the products or services being advertised.

Above: The Monet inspired Cadbury Flake advert and distinctive Volkswagon advert

(Published 1st Aug 2011) Read full article

Louis Armstrong - A Short Biography

aniel Louis Armstrong, better known as Louis Armstrong or Satchmo, was born on the 4th of August 1901. Armstrong was born into a poor family in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Possibly the most famous jazz musician of all time, Armstrong first learned to play the coronet and was part of various ensembles, including the Colored Waifs’ Home Band and the Kid Ory’s Orchestra. His tutor was Joseph ‘King’ Oliver and 1922 he joined Oliver in his Creole Jazz Band in Chicago. Armstrong’s first recordings were made with this ensemble the following year. It was during this time that he met and married pianist Lillian Hardin.

In 1924 Armstrong, after some persuasion from his wife, moved on, and went to New York City, where he joined the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra. It was at this time that he switched instruments to the trumpet so that he would blend in more with the other musicians in his section. He is now seen as one of the most influential trumpet soloists in Jazz.

(Published 1st Aug 2011) Read full article

Duke Ellington - A Short Biography

Edward Kennedy ‘Duke’ Ellington was born on April the 29th 1899 in Washington, D.C. The nickname ‘Duke’ was given to Ellington by a childhood friend, who noticed his impeccable taste in everything and that he carried himself with a sophisticated air at all times.

Both his parents played the piano and Ellington himself first began lessons at the age of 7. At this time however, his talent for drawing and painting was apparently stronger than that for music. He attended the Armstrong Manual Training School, where he studied commercial art.

During some time in Philadelphia he looked up Harvey Brooks, from who he learnt some piano tricks. This prompted Ellington to start learning again and he also began doing small gigs at local clubs and cafes. Three months before his graduation Ellington dropped out of school, so as to concentrate on a career in music.

(Published 4th Jul 2011) Read full article

Deer at Stella Books, Tintern

Below are some photographs of a deer, taken on 17 May 2006, at approx 13.30. The deer was located on the edge of the wood just behind Stella Books:-

(Published 1st Jul 2011) Read full article

Achieving A Dream

This was the headline to an article in a national newspaper which described how our family got started in the business of selling out-of-print books. Back in the days when I worked for a very large multi-national company,travelling abroad frequently and driving my posh company car, if anyone had told me that in twenty years time I would be a bookseller with two shops selling second-hand books - I would never have believed them! But here I am and this is how it happened.

An avid reader when I was young, I didn't really have time for reading as an adult although my husband Cliff, being a real bibliophile, always had at least five books on the go at any one time. Over the years Cliff had built up quite a large collection of books, (mostly about Cornwall, where he was born and grew up, and natural history, especially birds), whereas I had amassed just a few fiction paperbacks! We were holidaying in the Lake District and took the opportunity to visit Hill Top Farm in Sawrey, Ambleside, where Beatrix Potter had lived and written some of her little books for children.

(Published 1st Jan 2011) Read full article

Charlie Parker - A Short Biography

Charles Christopher Parker, Jr. or Charlie Parker, nicknamed ‘Bird’, was born in Kansas City on the 29th of August 1920. He is best known playing the saxophone and being one of the founders of bebop jazz during the 1940s.

Parker grew up listening to jazz bands like Count Basie’s. During his younger years, Parker’s musical talent does not seem to have been apparent, although some musical influence may have come from his father who played the piano. He started playing the baritone horn before switching to the alto saxophone. Dropping out of school at age 14, Parker concentrated on the Kansas City music scene. Jazz did not take off as his ‘day’ job straight away and he spent one summer woodshedding, whilst building up his technique and getting to grips with the fundamentals.

(Published 1st Dec 2010) Read full article

A Potted History of Tintern Abbey

As you are probably aware, Stella Books is located in the heart of the village of Tintern on the banks of the River Wye.

But did you know that Tintern's claim to fame is that of its famous Abbey? The Abbey is situated just south of Stella Books, about half a mile down the road. Those coming from the direction of Chepstow on the A466 will not miss it on their right-hand side as they enter Tintern. It truly is a breathtaking sight as it comes in to view, dominating the whole valley.

Our Literature and Performing artsroom (Room 10) also boasts a beautiful view down the river to the Abbey - you will have to come and visit us to see for yourself!

(Published 1st Nov 2010) Read full article

Tintern in Winter 2010-2011

This winter (2010 - 2011) has seen some record-breaking low temperatures across many parts of the UK and even in the relatively mild south-western region we have been greeted by some spectacular sights. The last time that ice like this was seen on the river was in the 1960s!

Here are a few of the images which capture the icy conditions experienced around Tintern and the River Wye on December 8th-10th 2010.

(Published 1st Nov 2010) Read full article

A New Job

Following a working life in the chemical industry, ending up as a self employed Skills Broker (whatever that is), my late fifties brought the opportunity to retire, coinciding with my other half also leaving behind her work as Trademark Examiner - relaxation beckoned!

Six months later came the ultimatum, if I did not get myself something to get me out of the way for at least a few days a week, retribution would be swift and merciless. There followed a scan of the adverts, looking for a complete change, and what caught my eye was a part-time job with a local antiquarian bookseller.

As a collector of movie memorabilia I had been a customer over the years, so how hard could it be? I was lucky enough to obtain an interview where it was explained that people often thought the job involved sitting behind a desk, reading a book and serving the occasional customer. Having discovered they were mind readers they went on to tell me what the job actually entailed!

(Published 1st Jun 2010) Read full article

On My Travels - or - Home Is Where You Park It

It's been a while now since I decided that the time was right in my life to leave Stella Books, where I worked on the reception desk, and begin an adventure. There were many sections in the shop that helped to inspire me to set out on my travels with my husband in our ancient motor home. Being a novice traveler I thought I would start fairly safely, so my husband and I chose the United Kingdom . As I was putting books away on shelves, the Atlas area, the Topographical sections, the Natural History and Ornithological sections were all food for inspiration as to places we might visit and sights we might see. I emailed each and every Wildlife Trust and RSPB organization asking for their favourites and nearly all of them replied with much information, for which I was very grateful.

(Published 1st Jan 2009) Read full article

W.E. Johns Appreciation Society - 22nd Annual Meeting 2007

It was with much excitement, and a little trepidation, that we set off at 6.30 a.m. on the 20th October 2007 to Derby County Cricket Club with a car load of books by W.E. Johns. This was the first time we had attended the W.E. Johns Appreciation Day and, having never been to the venue before, we weren't sure what to expect. Upon arrival at 9.00 am the work really started - up with the book shelves, in with the books, give them a good old sort, and discover there is not quite enough space! But after about an hour all is set up and we are ready to go.

(Published 16th Oct 2008) Read full article

A Brief History of Children’s Literature From 1578 - 1920

The very first book as we know books today was the Gutenberg Bible which was produced in 1456. The first picture book specifically published for children did not appear until well over 100 years later, in Germany in 1578. It was entitled “The Book Of Art And Instruction For Young People” and published by Sigmund Feyerabend. It was re-issued in 1580 with finely-executed full-page woodcut illustrations including the first known printed pictures of a young scholar using a hornbook and also of a child holding a doll. This treasure was only discovered and recognised in the latter part of the 20th century. It was found in a glass-fronted case in the back room of a small bookshop within a mile of the British museum. Its value can only be guessed at but it does show that treasures can still be discovered today.

(Published 1st Oct 2008) Read full article

Followers of Rupert Bear - 25th Annual Meeting - 2008

Followers of Rupert Bear - 25th Annual Meeting

The 25th Annual Meeting of the Followers of Rupert held on August 23rd was the highlight of 2008 for the hundreds of Rupert Bear fans who gathered in Warwick to celebrate this special event. A host of Nutwood characters welcomed everyone as they stepped through the door into a wonderland of everything Ruperty.

Before the programme started there was an opportunity to browse the many stalls selling anything you could think of connected with Rupert - books, toys, ephemera, clothing, figurines, you name it - it was there!

And this year we were delighted to have the new Rupert artist Stuart Trotter with us to sign his first Rupert annual.

(Published 1st Jul 2008) Read full article

Books in the Ancient World

The earliest books were in the form of papyrus rolls on which the text was written in columns. A continuous length of papyrus was written from the left to the right so that a reader would unroll the papyrus with their right hand and roll it up with their left. The ends of the roll were usually reinforced to protect against wear, and convention dictated that the book should be left with the beginning on the outside: therefore a considerate reader at the end of the 'book' would re-roll it for the next person. Only the inner side of the papyrus was used for writing, although in some cases the outer side could be used. In order to identify the contents of a scroll, a tag of parchment was attached which bore the title. It can be seen that the papyrus roll was more difficult to handle than our modern book format. A reader required both hands to roll and unroll the 'book' which made note-taking awkward, and it would have been difficult to find a particular scroll in a collection. Although papyrus rolls could in theory be any length, both very long and very short rolls were unmanageable. Around the time of Augustus, an average length of a 'book' became 700 - 900 lines.

Once a book was published in the Roman world, the author had no further control over it. As there were no copyright laws, any person who had access to a book was able to make a copy. Initially, publication might be through the release of the book to a number of friends but once released it could then be copied and circulated to a wider audience. The earliest evidence for a trade in books in the Roman world is from the Ciceronian period, although the private circulation of books provided the main source of texts for many individuals.

(Published 1st Apr 2008) Read full article

ABC - A History of Alphabet Books

Alphabet books - what are they? They are books that are created for younger readers, which show the letters of the alphabet, along with related words and/or pictures that usually begin with the given letter. Sometimes rhymes or just single sentences will be used to highlight the letter being learnt. Many ABC books will feature the letters in upper and lower case, to help the child recognize that they represent the same thing.

(Published 1st Mar 2008) Read full article

A Brief History of Jazz

Jazz began in the early twentieth century in New Orleans, in the U.S. state of Louisiana. There were lots of musical influences in the area of New Orleans, as many different nationalities travelled through the port for varying reasons. Spanish folk music, French military band music, Ragtime, European ballroom dance music, Blues music and others, all popular within the New Orleans area, all had an impact on the birth of Jazz.

Primarily invented by black musicians, Jazz was not written down in the same way as previous music, but the styles and tunes were passed on from one to another by ear. The exciting thing about Jazz was the improvisation of different instruments, around a main melody. In early Jazz this may have included popular folk and blues tunes of the times.

(Published 1st Feb 2008) Read full article