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Stella & Rose's Books

Specialists in Rare & Collectable Books


The cat has developed an intimate relationship with mankind whilst still having its own independence. The cat leads a double life. Out of the home the cat is its own boss, alert and free living wild creature. In the home it is an overgrown kitten. The cat manages to remain tame because of its upbringing, being with humans and other cats from an early age it considers itself both.

Cats have been domesticated for more than 3,500 years. Remains dating from 9,000 years ago have been found at a Neolithic site at Jericho, but there is no proof that these were domesticated cats. The only proof we know that the transformation from wild cat to domestic animal took place, is that from specific records and detailed pictures from ancient Egypt.

(Published 15th Sep 2014) Read full article

The History of the Domestic Cat

How do you feel about the domestic cat? Chances are, if you are looking at this webpage now, you love them rather than hate them. Few people are neutral towards cats. Throughout its history, the cat has been seen as both demonic and godlike – what a contrast!

The domestic cat can be traced back to a small African wild cat, a grey animal with blackish stripes and spots on the body and legs, dusky feet and a black-tipped tail with several rings.

Ancient Egypt:

The cat, along with the lion and a number of other creatures, was sacred to the Ancient Egyptians. The killing of a cat, whether intentional or not, was punishable by death. It has been recorded that a soldier who drove his chariot over a cat in Alexandria was consequently stoned to death by an enraged mob!

(Published 15th Sep 2014) Read full article

The Carnegie Medal

The Carnegie Medal was established by the Library Association early in the last century, in memory of the great Scottish-born philanthropist Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919). Carnegie was a self-made industrialist who made his fortune in the steel industry in America - wealth that he used to provide funding for many British Public libraries. Reminiscing on his own childhood experience of using a library, Carnegie resolved that "if ever wealth came to me it should be used to establish free libraries".

1935 was the centenary of Carnegie's birth and it was decided that a medal should be instituted in celebration of this. Therefore, on April 2nd 1936, the Library Association executive committee accepted the recommendation that "a gold medal be made annually for the best children's book published during the year by a British author". The medal for a given year is not announced until the summer of the following year, allowing time for the judging process. Therefore, in the summer of 1937, the winner of the first Carnegie medal was announced - Arthur Ransome for Pigeon Post.

(Published 15th Sep 2014) Read full article

Can I Help You?

I sing with a small choir and before a recent concert our conductor suggested we rest our voices for a day or two and tried to talk as little as possible. How, I wondered, was I going to do that when talking to customers is a large part of my job! I really enjoy chatting to the many people who visit or phone Rose's Books. I ignored his advice and carried on as normal!

As well as dealing with book related queries I seem to spend some time (particularly in summer) giving Tourist Information. We do have an excellent Tourist Information Centre in Hay at the top of the main car park which is the other side of town from us. I can usually answer questions about where to go for coffee/lunch/tea/ice cream, (I admit to being a little biased here as one of my daughter's works in Shepherds where they sell the most scrumptious sheep's milk ice-cream in a wide variety of flavours), where to get milk or bread and how to get to other book shops. I find it useful to give out the map of Hay Booksellers which shows where each shop is and what they specialise in.

(Published 15th Sep 2014) Read full article

Nikolaus Pevsner - The Buildings of England

Pevsner's unique inventory of English Buildings comprises 20,000 pages in forty-six volumes. The Series has been universally acclaimed as a triumph of scholarship, insight and perseverance. Today a tour of the Buildings Of England without a "Pevsner" in hand is unthinkable! But where did it all start?

On his arrival as a refugee from the Nazis in the 1930s, Pevsner was amazed to find that there was no comparable accessible detailed record of English architecture along the lines of the invaluable "Hand-bucher", compiled by the great pioneering architectural historian Dehio who had cycled his way round every important building in Germany.

Left: Nottinghamshire, 1st edition 1951.

(Published 15th Sep 2014) Read full article

bonzo the dog

As I sat at the shop desk, waiting for inspiration to hit me for my Theme Of The Month article, I turned towards the book shelves and there was Bonzo the dog smiling back at me from the cover of the 1948 Bonzo Annual and it was a eureka moment.

I am, and always have been, a dog lover and at home, since I was 5 or 6 years old, we have always had at least one dog, and sometimes up to three. Bonzo always makes me smile so I decided to try and find out a little more about him and his creator George Studdy.

(Published 15th Sep 2014) Read full article

Blue Peter Memories

My sister and I were avid Blue Peter fans in our childhoods and everything stopped on a Monday and a Thursday evening for half an hour as we sat glued to the television. Blue Peter was first broadcast on the 16th October 1958 but it would be the late 1960s before we started to tune in. At that time the presenters were Valerie Singleton, Peter Purves and John Noakes and even though we watched various other excellent presenters over the years these three were always our favourites. To date there have been 35 presenters and, due to it's continuing popularity, Blue Peter is still broadcast every week. I don't suppose there are many, if any, other children's programmes that have had such a long run. A mix of guests in the studio, outside broadcasts, daredevil stunts and things to make filled each programme - as I'm sure you will remember if you were also a fan.

(Published 15th Sep 2014) Read full article

Bird Watching in The Algarve

A reminder for the geographically challenged, the Algarve is in Portugal and forms the extreme South West tip of Europe. Its position, climate and geology make it a superb area for the birdwatcher and it's important to state up front that Chris and I are great birdwatchers but poor bird identifiers and often rely on our “oracle”, a friend back in the UK for positive identifications so any mistakes in this article... we would love to be educated!

There are four main habitats in the Algarve:

-the salt marshes -the inland orchards and orange groves -areas of maquis type scrub -the coast itself

However, from the end of September to early November, it's difficult to say whether there are more “birders” than birds in this area. A veritable plague or should that be flock of birders descend to witness the stunning North to South migration of hundreds of birds of prey and tens of thousands of passerines as they head out over Cape St. Vincent. Sometimes we felt like putting up a sign to warn the birds – don't stop here!!!

(Published 15th Sep 2014) Read full article

Beneath the Big Top

The circus – you either love it or you hate it, don’t you? Me, I love it. I always have done. I was born a josser; one not directly connected to the circus world so why this fascination? It all started when I was taken as a small child to see Bertram Mills Circus in Gloucester way back in the 1950s. I remember the smell of the earth and sawdust; the hard seats; but most of all I remember Coco the Clown. In his garish checked coat, his oversized boots and his bright orange hair that seemed to stand on end of its own accord he was both a frightening and fascinating being. It was when he plucked me from the audience to take part in his ‘tricks’ that I became hooked. I left the circus that day with sawdust in my shoes.

(Published 15th Sep 2014) Read full article

Banned Books

Governments through the ages have expended great energy in fighting wars with and against real live human soldiers. Perhaps what has not always been so apparent is the equal, and sometimes greater war that some of those governments have waged against the 'twenty six lead soldiers 'of the printing press.

Benjamin Franklin and Karl Marx both understood how the power of the printed word could issue a challenge more potent than any number of guns and bayonets. If we accept that writing, in some form, is at least 6000 years old then it may actually predate anything that we might regard as a sword. The pen might possibly be older than the sword, but the big debate has always been about which of them wields the greater power.

(Published 15th Sep 2014) Read full article


'Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness', the first line of a poem by John Keats which, in my opinion, captures the essence of autumn. If I am honest, autumn isn't my favourite season - spring is - but like all the seasons it has its good points and not so good points.

One aspect of autumn that I do enjoy is the autumn colour. The amount and intensity of colour in any particular year is affected by the weather conditions before and during the time when the chlorophyll in the leaves is decreasing. Ideally we need a succession of warm and sunny days followed by cool but not freezing nights to produce the best display. The sugars in the leaves combined with lots of sunshine produce the pigments but the amount of moisture in the soil also has an effect, so with our unpredictable British weather no two autumns are alike. Stella Books is in an area surrounded by deciduous woodlands so if the conditions are right there could be some spectacular colours this autumn. Why not visit the shop this autumn and see for yourself.

(Published 15th Sep 2014) Read full article

The Armchair Time-Traveller

Hands up all of you who read the title and thought that this was going to be about H.G. Wells and The Time Machine... Isn't it amazing how a few words can so powerfully create an image in the mind of the reader? Although a scientist with too much time on his hands may yet create a time-travelling armchair, we can all achieve personal transportation with alternative, but perhaps no less sophisticated, equipment: a book and the human mind.

(Published 26th Aug 2014) Read full article

Butterflies Or Bust

Towards the end of summer last year I reached a decision. After several years of miserable summer seasons, we had actually had some decent weather but something seemed to be missing... there were hardly any butterflies or bees around the garden. Steps would have to be taken!

As we've all seen in the news during recent years, the populations of bees and butterflies have been in decline for some time and I realized that it had become something of a novelty to see a butterfly in the garden. What had happened to those endless summer days of childhood when the gardens were full of multi-coloured butterflies and one used to collect pupa cases in match-boxes?!

(Published 1st Apr 2014) Read full article


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ABOVE, left to right: Figures 40 - 43

Figure 40 - Five Run Away Together 1st ed. 1944  

Figure 41 - Five Go To Smuggler's Top 1st ed. 1945

Figure 42 - Five Run Away Together 1st ed. 1944   

Figure 43 -Five Go To Smuggler's Top 1st ed. 1945

When all 11 SB dustwrappers were examined in detail, only 3 inconsistencies were found. These are as follows:

The word Anne is correctly spelled on the front flap of the 1st edition of Five Go To Smuggler's Top but is incorrectly spelled on the other dustwrapper.

(Published 2nd Mar 2014) Read full article


Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4


When all 23 dustwrappers were examined in detail, it soon became evident that a significant number of inconsistencies were present. To reproduce this research here would be too long and detailed for the purposes of this article so, as a compromise, only selected examples will be described. Note that with some examples, the first edition dustwrappers are included to provide a complete picture of the DB era.

ABOVE, left to right: Figures 32 - 35

Example 1:

Figures 32: Five Go Adventuring Again 3rd imp. 1948Figure 33 - Five Go Adventuring Again 4th imp.1949

(Published 2nd Mar 2014) Read full article

Many A Tale To tell

Once upon a time there lived a very, very poor family. The father was a cobbler when he could get work and the mother was an illiterate washer woman. When the son was only eight, the father died after serving as a soldier in the wars and the mother was forced to spend nearly all her days working away from home so that they could survive. Often the son would be given a loaf and told that was his week’s food.

But, like all very poor people, the family believed in education even if all they could do was ensure the son could read and write; and when he was left all alone he did read whatever he could and he peopled his lonely world with the fruits of his imagination. He would play with one of the only gifts his father had left him; a puppet theatre that his father had built, and he would act out the myths and tales his mother told him.

(Published 1st Feb 2014) Read full article

A Crazy Love for Reading and Books

My name is Ella-Roisin. I am nine years old and for the first two days of my summer holidays I worked at Stella Books bookshop with my grandma Theresa who works at the desk. You might know her if you’ve been for a little visit to Stella Books. Working in a bookshop sounds boring but if you have a crazy love for reading and books it is the most fun work experience you can get.

While I am there, I don’t just sit behind the desk having a cup of tea and biscuits although I do when I’m having a break. I’m actually up on my feet most of the time. I scan books, send emails and deal with people buying and selling books.

(Published 1st Jan 2014) Read full article

Who's Tess?

We sadly lost our cat a few months ago, I cannot say I am a great cat lover, that seems to be Debbie’s role in our home, but Purdy as she was known was fat, lazy and knocking on a bit, so we had lots in common and got on reasonably well. Debbie was devastated by her death, and subsequent chats indicated there could be no quick replacement. If and when the time came to think about another cat in the house, it was said that it would be mature, male and tabby.

So the scene was set for me to return from work at Stella Books last Sunday evening, looking forward to a leisurely supper, only to be greeted upon opening the front door, by shouts of “quick, close the front door, I don’t want Tess to get out!” My immediate thought was “who’s Tess?”

(Published 1st Dec 2013) Read full article


One of the greatest pleasures of my childhood was receiving an annual at Christmas. This usually came from a maiden aunt who always managed to choose one that was just right. I can still recall the hours of fun playing "Black Jake's Treasure" even though I can not remember the name of the annual that contained it. However I am sure that someone can enlighten me!

The point is that the annual was a surprise, and that it delighted. However, it was only recently that I found out a little of the history of the Annual. They seem to have appeared in the early 1800's, or at least that is when the word started to appear in the title. The contents were generally bound volumes of the weekly or monthly issues, occasionally with some extra material thrown in. It was possible for readers to choose the type of binding they could afford, which probably accounts for all the differing bindings that are found with "The Strand Magazine" for example. Luckily it soon became the practise to bind most of the magazines, which is why so many are still available now.

(Published 6th Nov 2013) Read full article

Illustrators of Alice

Since Alice In Wonderland was first published in 1865, followed by Through The Looking-Glass and What Alice Saw There in 1871 (1st editions are dated 1872), hundreds of artists have illustrated these wonderful books with their fantastic characters. Many have depicted Alice in traditional style, while others have used their own style with these ranging from cute to outlandish. While not able to cover them all in the scope of this article, I hope to introduce you to a few which may be unfamiliar to you.

(Published 5th Nov 2013) Read full article