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Stella & Rose's Books

Specialists in Rare & collectable books

Memories of Childhood

The books we read as children have a special place in our memories. Those we loved remain with us throughout our lives. Often as adults we return to these books - sometimes just to read them again ourselves, perhaps to learn something about who we once were. Other times maybe we want to just share the experience and joy with our own children, grandchildren or other children.

I myself come from a family which had no books at all in the home. By chance at the age of about six or seven I stumbled upon the local public library. I had been wandering around the local street market aimlessly not quite knowing what to do with myself. I got a warm welcome from the library staff and three library tickets - the old fashioned type where they took a slip out of the book and retained it with the ticket until you returned the book. Ah! I feel a whiff of nostalgia for those pre-electronic days when libraries were for books not computers and where people were expected to read quietly and talk in whispers. I have been an avid reader ever since.

(Published 23rd Oct 2014) Read full article

Now Is The Month of Maying!

There is often a moment of panic when I'm reminded it is my turn to write Theme of the Month for the website and this time was no exception. However, the title of a Madrigal being learned by my local choir keeps going round in my head and it became the title of this article.

The madrigal (a part song for several voices, usually unaccompanied and often from the Renaissance period for those who were wondering) was written by Thomas Morley and published in 1595. It is sung by the choir of Magdalen College, Oxford during their 1st May morning celebrations. Here large crowds gather early - about 6am (or indeed have been up all night at the May balls) - to hear the choir sing from the top of the tower at the college before the revelries continue. So I thought I'd investigate more about the month of May.

(Published 23rd Oct 2014) Read full article


Imagine the world without ships, or floating craft of any kind. The empires that would not have been born, the innocence of mankind for each other with our many and varied trades, cultures and creeds. The lands that would have been left solely to our fellow creatures when the continents slipped (some might call that utopia in this age of conservation awareness).

Left: A Viking Ship

Here at Stella Books we have an extensive range of maritime books from ancient times to modern-day heroes and heroines together with books on canals, old ships photographs, sailing manuals and children's adventure stories (watery ones of course).

(Published 23rd Oct 2014) Read full article


Although I now live in the Forest of Dean and work in the beautiful Wye Valley, for many years I lived and worked in London.

So in spite of my lovely surroundings, I still love London; I love its history, museums, architecture (some more than others), art galleries, theatres, restaurants - its complete zest for life!

So it is no surprise that one of my favourite sections in the shop is the one on London. As is right and proper, all manner of books have been written about London, so from this section I am just going to highlight a few of my favourites.

(Published 23rd Oct 2014) Read full article

Ladybird Books Illustrators

You can't beat a Ladybird book!! A comment made in Rose's Books recently and one with which many people would agree. Well written, well illustrated, with just enough information to help any child who is learning to read or doing a school project (and not just in pre-computer days!)

Nearly everyone who visits Rose's Books walks past our fabulous collection of Ladybird books. Memories of these books come flooding back. But what I think people remember most is the illustrations - although there are a few people who can practically recite Tootles the Taxi or Ginger's Adventures! One customer bought a copy of British Birds And Their Nests from the 536 series because he found the illustrations really useful when bird watching.

(Published 23rd Oct 2014) Read full article

Ladybird Books

To view our current stock of ladybird books click here


"Once upon a time there was a little girl called Cinderella. Her mother was dead, and she lived with her father and two elder sisters…"

Do you remember sitting up in bed as a little tot determined not to fall asleep as you listened to your favourite story being read to you? Maybe it started with the words 'Mrs. Bunnikin was darning, with a stocking in her hand; In came Bunnikin, her youngest, said "A picnic would be grand!"'.

(Published 23rd Oct 2014) Read full article

Arthur Mee & King's England

View our current stock of King's England


"A remarkable event has been going on, quietly and unguessed at for many years in our countryside. There has been nothing like it before: it is the first census of the ancient and beautiful and curious historic possessions of England since the motor car came to make it possible..."

Such were the words of Arthur Mee (1875-1943), successful journalist, children's writer and patriot, as he described the production of The King's England - 'A New Domesday of 10,000 towns and villages'. Monumental in scale, this project led to the publication of 40 county books including an introductory volume 'Enchanted Land'. Originally published by Hodder & Stoughton in the 1930s these popular guidebooks have undergone revision and in 1989 The King's England Press was founded in order to reprint the series.

(Published 23rd Oct 2014) Read full article


Italy current stock



Through books your passions can be realized and explored, a love affair can be born and continued with delicious exhilarating and everlasting effect. The expectations are tantalizing. Books that lead the simple hearted reader to obscure corners to enjoy unnoticed landscapes and the secret vibrations of their beauty.

'A Good Book is the best of Friends, the same today and forever'

'A Good Book is the purest essence of a human soul'

'I love to lose myself in other men's minds, when I am not walking or traveling, I am reading. I cannot sit and think, Books think for me' Charles Lamb

(Published 22nd Oct 2014) Read full article

Independent Hay-on-Wye

Many of you know that Hay-On-Wye is famous for its multiplicity of bookshops but did you know that we have our own King who lives in the castle in Hay? The story begins long ago (in 1977 actually) when the booktown founder, Richard Booth, decided that action must be taken to revitalise Hay, ensure the livelihood of its inhabitants and restore the town to its former prosperity. Independence seemed to be the only solution.

The Declaration of Independence was made in December 1977 and the town celebrated with a party and fireworks.When King Richard, resplendent in his royal robes with crown, orb and sceptre, made from an old ball-cock and copper piping, was afterwards asked whether he was serious, his reply was:"Of course not - but it's more serious than real politics..!"

(Published 22nd Oct 2014) Read full article

Hobbies Meet Work - Work Meets Hobbies

As a rule I prefer to try and keep work and home life separate but as they say 'life is not that simple!'

When I first started working for Stella Books, some 15 years ago (seems like yesterday), I was employed to process the orders in the fast developing internet side of the business. Well, after a couple of years I developed a fondness for Biggles books when I was looking for something to read one afternoon. As is my way when I like an author, I wanted to read all of the books written by W.E. Johns, and so I started to buy the odd cheap reading copy and this somehow spiraled into a full-blown collecting habit (see my previous article!).

(Published 22nd Oct 2014) Read full article

The History of Rose's Books

Set in the rural market town of Hay-On-Wye, Rose's Books is the perfect example of the quaint and attractive family-run book store that Hay-On-Wye is renowned for.

Standing tall near the famous clock tower of the town, Rose's Books looks like it might have stood forever, watching time come and go. In truth, the building was constructed in 1611. Please join me on a brief journey through time to discover the history of our book store, Rose's Books.

When the building was constructed during the 17th century, Hay-On-Wye was a lively centre of local trade. It is likely that the property was originally used as a family home. Built on Broad Street, or Wye Bridge Street, as the road was then known, it was a fantastic location for any family to reside. With a cellar, and three main floors to the house it had ample room and the view from the top floor showed not only the barges travelling the River Wye but the hills, mountains and villages beyond.

(Published 22nd Oct 2014) Read full article


 Current stock of books about Herbs

Herbs have played an important part in the history of Man, from very early ages to the present day. They have had a variety of uses throughout the world, from condiments to charms against witch craft. Herbs have been used in floral decorations at weddings and funerals and to adorn the heads of victorious sports persons. An exact time of when herbs were first collected or planted is unknown but a papyrus dating back to 1500BC reveals that Egyptian doctors regularly prescribed herbal medicines to their patients.

(Published 22nd Oct 2014) Read full article

My Little Bit of Heaven

Current stock of Gardening books

Ten years ago when I took early retirement, I was not a gardener. A fork, a spade and a lawnmower just about summed it up. There was no intention of my becoming a gardener either. In fact it was only on a trip to Shepton Mallett to purchase a motorhome that we happened to come across our present abode, and it was not the building that attracted us, but the garden and view.

Of course it was not an easy decision to make, changing a four bedroomed house for a two bedroomed bungalow. But what the heck; the children had left home and did not need us any more (and anyway they could sleep in the motorhome if necessary), and we could put bookcases around the bedrooms so the books could stay, and we didn't have to keep the car in the garage did we?

(Published 22nd Oct 2014) Read full article

Assistance Dogs

This month I thought I would write about the charity Hearing Dogs for Deaf People as I am the proud beneficiary of a Hearing Dog whose name is Abigail. Hearing Dogs for the Deaf was launched at Crufts in London in 1982. The charity trains carefully selected dogs to alert severely, profoundly or totally deaf people to everyday sounds which hearing people may take for granted, such as the ringing of an alarm clock, doorbell or telephone, and the sound of a smoke alarm, baby alarm or cooker timer.

In 1986 the first training centre in the UK was purchased in Lewknor, Oxfordshire. In 1999 The Grange, a former stud farm was purchased at Saunderton, Buckinghamshire where work was completed in 2002 and the Lewknor centre closed. In 1994 another training centre was purchased, this time in Cliffe, North Yorkshire. This centre is now too small and a site has been purchased in Bielby for a new, larger training centre where work is currently ongoing.

(Published 22nd Oct 2014) Read full article

My Personal Journey through the Application Process of Hearing Dogs For Deaf People

April 1st 2012

At the beginning of the year I, with my husband’s agreement, decided that I would apply for a Hearing Dog for Deaf People. We lost our dog Holly, at the age of 13, in May 2011 and she left a very big hole in our lives but we decided that it would be very useful if we had a trained dog to help me with sounds that I don't hear in everyday life (door bell, smoke alarm, cooker timer etc).

I enquired about how to go about this and was told that only 50 places are open each year. The date for applying was 1st April and I was told that I should phone (or get my husband to phone on my behalf) at 9am on the dot as soon as the office opened, if I hoped to get in the queue for this year. So we did and we did! I was very happy about this as I expected the phone to be engaged, or not to be able to get through - all the usual things that happen when you have an important call to make.

(Published 22nd Oct 2014) Read full article

Hearing Dogs

Earlier in the year Abigail was employee of the month! Abigail is a Hearing Dog for the Deaf and so Hearing Dogs for Deaf People is our favourite charity. Without Abigail (Abi for short), her owner, Sonia (Mail Order Dept), would never be able to get up in time for work in the mornings - in fact, Abi is so enthusiastic in this aspect that she often wakes Sonia before the alarm goes off!! Abi is also trained to alert Sonia to sounds such as the doorbell, cooker timer, smoke alarm and fire alarm. A very valuable Aide indeed!

For more information about these wonderful dogs, web site address is:

(Published 22nd Oct 2014) Read full article

Hay Festival 2008

It's the end of May, probably raining (well, this is Wales after all) and thousands of people are travelling to a field in the market town of Hay on Wye. 'What for?' you ask yourself. To visit the Hay Festival of Literature - and tour the 30 or so book shops situated in the town! Now in its 21st year the Festival is more popular than ever and this year it runs from 22nd May to 1st June.

The first Festival in 1988 was planned around a kitchen table! Peter Florence (the Festival Director) and his father had the idea to invite friends to listen to writers in the beauty of the Brecon Beacons. The festival grew and grew and is now held over ten days and attracts thousands of visitors. Originally the events were held at venues around the town but now a 'village' is constructed just outside the town. It is interesting to watch developments as I travel to and from work, as the field is transformed to a small village complete with several marquees, portaloos, small sheds, chairs, tables and all the other many bits and pieces that are required to make the site into a leading literary Festival venue. Other fields are opened for parking, something which has been a problem in the past. Although the site is within walking distance of the town there are shuttle buses to and from the town and one of the stops is just outside Rose's Books!

(Published 22nd Oct 2014) Read full article


Current stock of Guide Books

Whether we travel to Seattle or Salzburg, Prestatyn or Perth we expect to be guided. Today it may be by the technology in our pocket, to which the location of the best Bombay restaurant in Birmingham will be beamed. Generally we have our Guide Book - but why?

Certainly there is merit in knowing where the nearest Public Convenience is situated (especially after the Best Bombay!), but do we really need the views of the Local Council publicity department as to the grand attractions of their locale with not a blemish throughout the town? Can we even define what a Guide Book is?

(Published 22nd Oct 2014) Read full article


Current stock of Negro Interest

Many of us are familiar with battered old Gollies left in the toy cupboard, much loved and then forgotten and many of us have also been brought up with the Robertson Jam Golly brooches which have now ceased production. Perhaps not so familiar to some, is the fact that Florence Upton created the golliwogg character in a series of picture books which were written by her mother, Bertha Upton. The first appearance of the Golliwogg in 1895 in 'The Adventures of Two Dutch Dolls and a Golliwogg' caused the Dutch Dolls to "scatter in their fright". Happily for us, they soon got over their shock and the Golliwogg became their closest friend.

(Published 22nd Oct 2014) Read full article


Current stock of Golf books

It is 30 years since I last had an argument with a golf ball, you know the sort of thing :-

‘I was aiming for the flag, why on earth did you fly off in the opposite direction you stupid article?’‘I hit you straight down the fairway, why are you hiding in the long grass, is it just to be awkward?’

So I was a little taken aback to be asked by my recently retired brother if I fancied a few swings of the clubs on a local driving range, I really should have known better, but the memories of frustrated tantrums on various courses over the years must have dimmed with the passing of time, so I foolishly agreed.

(Published 22nd Oct 2014) Read full article