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Stella & Rose's Books

Specialists in Rare & Collectable Books


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

Followers of Rupert Bear - 24th Annual Meeting - 2007

A host of Nutwood characters greeted the hundreds of Rupert Followers who gathered in Warwick for their 24th annual meeting on 4th August 2007 to enjoy the day's events.

In addition to the dealer's stalls with thousands of Ruperty items on offer, there were origami demonstrations taking place with the opportunity to make your own paper birds and aeroplanes, as well as a full programme of events in the afternoon.

We were delighted to hear that the classic Rupert we are so familiar with is here to stay. We were introduced to the new Rupert artist Stuart Trotter who will be illustrating the annual published for Christmas 2008 which will also contain all new stories. Stuart, who has illustrated Postman Pat and Thomas the Tank Engine among others, has been a life-long fan of Rupert and promises that the little bear will be very much recognisable as the Classic Rupert. 

(Published 1st Aug 2007) Read full article

A Walk In The Forest of Dean

I went on a wonderful walk the other day in The Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire, collecting blackberries for jam making (and eating one or two as I went), being thoroughly uplifted by the sight of so much abundance on our trees this year, with all their shades of colour, and listening to the birds seemingly enjoying their day too.

The Forest of Dean, covering an area of fourteen square miles on a peninsula between the rivers Wye and Severn, has much industrial history. A few generations ago it would have looked extremely different with many mines and tramways, not the leafy place it is now. Many residents can still tell tales of their grandfathers and great-grandfathers working in the pits and other industries and, very often, playing in the brass bands, of which there were many. Today brass banding is still strong in the Forest, as are the arts of recital and singing. One such grandfather worked as a postman. He travelled by horse every day from St. Briavels to Gloucester and back again to fetch the mail, where on his return it was sorted and delivered locally. The story goes that if he stopped for more than one pint at lunch time his horse made its own way home, wanting his sustenance too. The same gentleman was fond of saying that other folk worked from 12 noon to 1pm and took an hour for lunch!

(Published 1st Nov 2006) Read full article

A day in the life of stella books

A customer rang me other day and asked whether we were a warehouse or a shop so I thought I would tell you a little bit about us and a typical day in the shop.

We are in the lovely village of Tintern in the Wye Valley in South Wales. I’m sure you have heard of the famous Tintern Abbey, built in the 11th century and now a magnificent ruin - well we are a wee bit further along the village. The road runs alongside the River Wye, which is tidal and can be quite scary at times especially at high tide. We have watched the river rise until it fills the field on the opposite bank and then slowly cover the road outside the shop.

(Published 1st Nov 2006) Read full article

Followers of Rupert Bear - Annual Meeting 2005

Great excitement in Nutwood! The 22nd annual meeting of the Followers of Rupert Bear took place Saturday August 27th.

For some years now several hundred Followers of Rupert have converged on Warwick, to meet, talk about Rupert, drink beer (and tea & coffee!), buy Ruperty stuff and enjoy what we have come to call "Fellowship" and this year was no exception.

We enjoyed the company of Mary Cadogan who gave us a foretaste of her new book about the women in Rupert's world, with Mary Tourtel, Rupert's creator, of course being the most important. This year's play was "Rupert And Gaffer" and once more the theatre was turned into the world of Nutwood with all Rupert's chums, the Sage of Um in his flying Brella and, making his first appearance, a magnificent sea serpent! (see below).

(Published 1st Nov 2006) Read full article