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Stella & Rose's Books

Specialists in Rare & Collectable Books

Molly Brett

MOLLY BRETT (born: Mary Elizabeth Brett)

The daughter of the noted animal painter Mary Gould Brett, Molly was born in 1912 and brought up in a country district of Surrey. She had little formal training but after taking a correspondence course she started illustrating and writing children's books.

She wrote and illustrated more than sixteen books for the Medici Society and illustrated many other books,however, here we are most interested in the books she illustrated for Enid Blyton. There are thirteen in total, all published by Brockhampton press between 1951 and 1961.

(Published 30th Oct 2015) Read full article

Enid Blyton Society Day 2007

As this was my 1st Enid Blyton Day, I had been anticipating it for some time. To increase my knowledge of our stock for weeks I had been cataloguing and pricing any Enid Bylton books which were sitting in our store room. There was also great excitement as this website was being built all with the 12th of May in mind as a launch day. At times it was touch and go to see if everything was going to be ready in time, thankful everybody pulled together and Stella and Rose's Books were ready for the fair 1 only week early, which is most unusual.

On the 11th May, the difficult decisions are made, which books do we take and which books do we leave in the shop. Thankful as I had a day off I could escape these difficult decisions and the boxes of books were packed up by my colleagues. With everything packed ready to go the next day, all that was needed was a good nights sleep.

(Published 30th Oct 2015) Read full article

Enid Blyton Society Day 2005

Stella & Roses Books were delighted to participate in the Enid Blyton’s Society Day meeting at Twyford, UK on 7th May.

Above, left to right: Stella and Roses Books Stand; Settling down for the 1st talk of the day; Enid Blyton's daughter, Gillian, at our stand.

The aim of the Society, which was formed in early 1995, is to provide a focal point for collectors and enthusiasts of Enid Blyton through its magazine The Enid Blyton Society Journal, issued three times a year, its annual Enid Blyton Day and its website. (

Around 100 enthusiasts, including Enid’s two daughters Imogen & Gillian, spent the day gossiping (sorry I think networking is the word), browsing the Enid Blyton items for sale and listening to a talk on the early years of Enid Blyton as a governess in Hook in the 1920’s by Mark Davison. The talk was based on material from Mark’s book ‘Hook Remembered’ (

(Published 30th Oct 2015) Read full article

The Secret Seven by Enid Blyton

The Secret Seven series of 15 books, by prolific author Enid Blyton, follows the adventures of a strictly secret society made up of 7 children, who like to solve mysteries that they happen upon, or actively go looking for!

The History:

Although many may think, like I did before doing this research, that The Secret Seven - the first title in this series - is the first time we are introduced to the seven, this is not the case. In 1947, At Seaside Cottage a small volume was published by Brockhampton Press and featured the main characters of Peter and Janet, with their golden spaniel, Scamper. A year later in 1948, Secret of the Old Mill was published, in which Peter and Janet, after reading a book called The Secret Society, decide to create a secret society of their own, using the old mill on a hill near their home as a meeting place. They invite five of their friends to join them, and so The Secret Seven are born.

(Published 30th Oct 2015) Read full article

Enid Blyton

Enid Mary Blyton, born 11th August 1897 and died 28th November 1968, was probably the twentieth century's most successful writer of children's books. A phenomenally prolific author, she wrote an estimated 800 books during a literary career that spanned more than forty years. In 2007 she was the fifth most popular author in the world, placing her ahead of Shakespeare.

Enid Blyton trained as a teacher and qualified in 1918 after which she taught for several years at schools in London. She wrote in her spare time and in 1920 she renewed her acqaintance with school-friend Phyllis Chase who was working as an illustrator. The pair decided to submit work together, a turning point in their careers. Enid's first book, Child Whispers, is published in 1922 and the following year she met Hugh Pollock, editor at George Newnes publishers, whom she was to marry in 1924.

(Published 30th Oct 2015) Read full article

Isaac and the Midnight Jewels

"Most people love butterflies and hate moths," he said. "But moths are more interesting - more engaging.” Thomas Harris, The Silence of the Lambs

One of the wonders of grand-children (and they are so many that I have neither the time nor talent to do them justice) is that they can take our imagination by the hand and lead us down paths of curiosity we haven’t known since we were young ourselves.

“What are moths, Pompar?” A simple enough question from a six year old but, just as the attention of the bee stimulates a flower to offer nectar, suddenly my childhood fascination with these mysterious creatures of the night sky came flooding back. Luckily, it was late August and Isaac was staying with us for a while over the holidays. Here was a golden opportunity for Isaac and I to do something together.

(Published 16th Oct 2015) Read full article

Biggles & Co. 21st Annual Meeting Saturday 17th April 2010

Stella & Rose's Books were delighted to attend the 21st annual meeting of Biggles & Co - a group of enthusiasts who meet to celebrate the life and works of Captain W.E. Johns. 

The event, held this year on Saturday 17th April 2010 at Lodden Hall, Twyford, is a wonderful opportunity for those who enjoy these books to get together and chat about Biggles, Gimlet, Worrals and all their chums... There is also a large number of quality books and artwork to browse and buy - a great chance to fill gaps in even the most comprehensive collection!

After arriving around 9am there was an hour to set up our stall and display all those Biggles books which we had carefully transported from our two shops. All went smoothly and, after a final check to ensure that Biggles was sufficiently presentable to meet his adoring public, the doors opened and the real business of the day started - meeting old & new friends, and exchanging views on our favourite literary hero.

(Published 16th Oct 2015) Read full article

Collecting w.e. johns books

Why collect the books of W.E. Johns? This is the question I find myself asking again after seven years of collecting. With the last of the main run of books being published in 1970 it is definitely not that I read them as a child and they bring back happy memories as I am not that old! Maybe it is fond memories of the 1985 Biggles film as I would have been at an age to be influenced by these things. Most certainly it is because I came to work in a bookshop, however I worked for Stella Books for three years before I started collecting.

What I do remember vividly is being drawn in by the design on the covers of some of the 1930s Biggles books, in particular the blue covers showing a bi-plane flying over palm trees and pyramids. My thinking at the time was "I want to read some of these books that I keep selling every day; stop 'wasting' money on paperback books and buy something which I will be able to resell, hopefully for at least what I paid for it".

(Published 1st Oct 2015) Read full article

What's In A Book?

In the short time I have been adding books into stock at Rose's Books I have been amused by the obscure items you find hidden between the pages. Often the item has been used as a bookmark so I can only assume that when a reader is looking for something to mark their page, they grab the first thing that comes to hand - as you will see from the following list.

A black and white photograph of a young man and a dog.

The outer cardboard wrapper from a film cartridge. I googled the make and looks like it could be for a box camera from around the 1930s.

(Published 26th Aug 2015) Read full article

My First Year With Hearing Dog Betsy

View current stock of Books about Dogs

Firstly, I should explain to those of you that are unaware, I am profoundly deaf. I decided to apply for a Hearing Dog to enhance my life after my pet dog, Holly, passed away. Finally after 5 years of waiting, the day was upon us!

Wow! Time flies! I brought Betsy home with me for the first time on 31st May 2014. A whole year has flown by already!

Above: 1. Betsy alerting me and 2. Betsy laying down after I have asked "What is it", so that I know it is an emergency alarm!  

Betsy has been good for me in so many ways – some obvious and some more subtle. She has made me feel much more confident about going out and about on my own – simply shopping or going to the bank or doctors. I feel much happier being home overnight without my husband if he has to go away due to work. In the past, I would worry that I wouldn't wake up in the morning for work or perhaps the burglar alarm would go off in the night and I wouldn't hear it. Now I sleep a lot better knowing that Betsy will wake me up in the morning or if she hears an alarm.

(Published 3rd Aug 2015) Read full article

How to date a book

In English the word “date” has multiple meanings, so if you are thinking romance, then sadly this is most likely not for you!


Now, when I started working in a book shop and you asked me to find the publication date of the book, I would think “yes I know how to do that” well after a few years I changed to “errr why is it so difficult to find the publication date!”. Now after a few more years, I finally feel I am vaguely getting to grips with the process, and so I thought I would share some of the tips I have picked up.

(Published 30th Jun 2015) Read full article

Snorri the Seal by Frithjof Saelen

When I was very young, even before I could read, I was enthralled by the story of a vain little seal called Snorri.

In the late 50s my big sister Elspeth had been been given the book, “Snorri the Seal” as a prize at her primary school when she was seven years old and I suppose that as she grew out of it, so I grew into it, and became as fascinated by the pictures contained within as Snorri was by his own reflection in the ice.

The book follows the perilous misadventures of a baby seal called Snorri who ignores his mother's warnings about the dangers of the Arctic and its creatures and instead swims happily among the ice-floes. As he wanders further from home he is attacked by Growler the polar bear, spied upon by a pair of scheming seagulls called See and Saw and stalked relentlessly by a killer whale called Grab.

(Published 18th May 2015) Read full article

Military Books

View current stock of Military books

It is always pleasant to chat with customers who drop into our Tintern shop, and I have heard all manner of fascinating anecdotes and family recollections and learned many facts over the years which I would not otherwise have known.

The other day, as I was circumnavigating the shop collecting together books for the orders which had been placed online, I was apprehended by two jovial gentlemen in Room 10 - which is currently home to our collection of Military Books. They were astonished by the range, as well as the quality, of our military books section and were enthusiastically working their way around the shelves, calling out delightedly as they discovered some elusive gem or a volume which brought back memories of previous events in their lives.

(Published 1st May 2015) Read full article

C.F. Tunnicliffe

View current stock of C.F. Tunnicliffe books

It is often illustrations that people remember from childhood books. They can describe the illustration but have no idea who produced it. I am no exception as I can remember illustrations from the Ladybird book 'What to look for in Winter' very clearly but it is only recently that I have discovered that they were by C.F. Tunnicliffe.

Above: Tunnicliffe illustrations from 'Mereside Chronicle'

Charles Frederick Tunnicliffe was born on 1st December 1901 in Langley near Macclesfield in Cheshire. When he was eighteen months old the family moved to a farm at Sutton Lane Ends where Tunnicliffe spent the rest of his childhood. Tunnicliffe's interest in art began here and his drawings would appear on the walls of the cowshed and stable! His artistic talent was recognised by the Headmaster, Buckley Moffat, and Charles went on to attend the Macclesfield School of Art as well as going to the Manchester School of Art one day a week.

(Published 16th Apr 2015) Read full article

Here Comes The Sun

Meteorology & Climate books in stock

No, don't panic! 

This is not an advance warning of global catastrophe as the planet is consumed by a rampaging sun. Nor, and possibly this may be an even greater relief, does it have anything to do with 1970s television. Note for our younger readers: in the Seventies we'd sit glued to the TV set, possibly by the static electricity from all that damn nylon, as the Holiday programme, hosted by Cliff Michelmore, scorched across our screens to the refrain Here Comes The Sun... Ah, yes, those indeed were the days.

At this time of the year thoughts turn towards our nearest star, or more specifically towards its effects on the weather in our particular corner of the world. After the chill, grey days of winter I think that most people, even the snow-lovers and 'coldies', derive some pleasure from the increasing warmth of the sun's rays on our faces as we go about our business.

(Published 30th Mar 2015) Read full article

Baedeker Guides

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Baedeker travel guides, with their distinctive red covers with gold titles, although having been published since the 1800s are what is to be considered 'modern' guidebooks. (Interestingly, Baedeker guides published up until 1856, were not the now famous 'red', but a tan colour). At this time, travel literature or personal accounts were by no means a new thing, with some dating back to the 2nd century CE, but how did these famous travel guidebooks come about and how did they differ from previous works?

Karl (Ludwig Johannes) Baedeker (1801-1859) came from a family of booksellers, printers and publishers, so had a background in the business. From 1823-1825, he worked in Berlin at the booksellers Georg Andreas Reimer and then spent some time in Essen (where he was born), working for his father. 1827 really saw Baedeker stepping out on his own fully, when he moved to Koblenz to set up his own bookselling and publishing business.

(Published 28th Feb 2015) Read full article

Seismic Shock

View current stock of Portugal books

The Great Lisbon Earthquake – Physical and Societal Effects

The 1755 Lisbon earthquake, also known as the Great Lisbon Earthquake (‘terramoto’ in Portuguese), occurred in Portugal on Saturday, 1 November 1755, the holiday of All Saints Day at around 09:40 local time. The earthquake measured at least 8.5 on the Richter scale and together with the fires and a tsunami (‘maremoto’) that were caused, the earthquake almost totally destroyed Lisbon and inflicted severe damage to the Algarve in Southern Portugal. The epicentre was in the Atlantic about 200 km (120 miles) southwest of Cape St. Vincent. It remains difficult to say how many died but probably around 50,000 with an unknown, but vast, number made homeless. 85% of Lisbon's buildings were destroyed.

(Published 26th Feb 2015) Read full article

Edwardian Education

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Hard LabourFour shillings per week, 7:00 am to 5:30 pm Monday to Friday and half day on Saturday as well. That is what Reggie earned when he left school aged 14 in 1913 working for Mr. Pidgeon, market gardener.

Just one fact from a fascinating document from St. Stephens school near Saltash in Cornwall. More than just a register; each year a summary survey of the pupils about to leave school was carried out. This looked at their height, weight, where they lived, what their father did, what they wanted to do when they left school and some notes as to what actually transpired in the years after leaving school. In an Education Act in 1907 local authorities were given powers to authorise medical examinations as it was hoped these would help diagnose childhood diseases early. It was possibly this that led to the height and weight measurements being included in this school report of the 29 pupils (17 boys and 12 girls).

(Published 26th Feb 2015) Read full article


View current stock of Herefordshire books

My decision to write about Hay, or Hay-on-Wye to give our town its full name, stems from a snippet of conversation I overheard during my lunch break a few weeks ago. This is how it went:

Wife: Did you bring the camera?Husband: No I didn't – but there's nothing worth photographing here anyway!

At the time they were standing in full view of the Castle - but facing the other way!

I have always lived near Hay so I thought I would tell you a little about things that I find interesting and, for those who bring their camera, maybe worth photographing. The best place to start, I think, is with the Castle as it is probably the biggest and oldest building in Hay and is built on raised ground above the market square – you can't miss it! Parts of the building date from around 1100 but various sections have been knocked down, damaged, rebuilt, added to and restored in its long and varied history. It has changed hands many times and has survived frequent attacks plus a couple of damaging fires, the most recent of which was in 1977. The castle has been owned by Hay Castle Trust since 2011 and, with the help of Cadw and other partners, they hope to protect and conserve the remaining buildings with a view to opening parts of the castle and grounds to the public. At the moment you can only walk around one the side of the castle from an entrance on Castle Street or from opposite the main car park.

(Published 25th Feb 2015) Read full article

Mabel Lucie Attwell

View current stock of Mabel Lucie Attwell books

As many of you will know, from reading our articles, Maria's favourite children's book illustrator is Mabel Lucie Attwell (see articles on Comforting Thoughts & For Today and Bunty and the Boo Boos). However, on checking, it appears that we have yet to research an article of her history... so here goes!

(Published 25th Feb 2015) Read full article