As some of our long-term readers may know, one of the founders of Stella Books – Cliff – was the proud owner of a 1942 Willys Jeep. The Jeep had been in his family since being purchased just after the war as ‘army surplus’. It was used around the family farm and was the first vehicle Cliff drove – learning to drive it around the farm as a young boy. Around 20 years ago Cliff and I restored the Jeep back to its original glory. Cliff used to love driving it around Tintern and had it shipped over to Portugal when he and Chris lived there. When Cliff died back in 2017 he left ‘Jeep’ to me. Although I don’t use it as much as I’d like, it is a fantastic vehicle to drive around in the summer – or even in the winter if you dress up warmly enough!
Quality Street was first published in 1901, a few years before Barrie's famous novel of Peter Pan. The play, a comedy in four acts, opened in Ohio in October 1901 and in New York in November 1901 where it ran for 64 performances. However, when it arrived in London in September 1902, it ran for a very successful 459 performances. The play enjoyed numerous revivals and tours until World War II and even enjoyed a recent revival in 2010.
In my opinion, this is one of the most beautiful of the Folio Society books, and I love fairy tales so what could be better than a lovely copy in a slipcase? (View our current stock of this book - click here).
The book is bound in red buckram cloth, with decorations based on Edmund Dulac's design for ‘My Days With the Fairies’ by Mrs. R. Stawell. On the front cover is an elfin-like character in gilt sitting on a cloud beneath a vine of beautiful pale lilac and pink flowers. The spine is also decorated with gilt, pale lilac and pink, picturing what to me looks like a chandelier, with a gilt cockerel at the base of the spine.
'The House at Pooh Corner' was first published by Methuen & Co. Ltd in October 1928, being the final in a quartet of books for children by A.A. Milne and illustrated by E.H. Shepard. However, it is the second volume specifically about the well loved 'bear of little brains', 'Winnie-the-Pooh' along with his friends and their many adventures in the 100 Acre Wood.
This book follows the same format as 'Winnie-the-Pooh', where almost every chapter can be read independently of each other as a shorter story; perfect for bedtime reading and for keeping a child's (or adult's) attention! In fact, in the many years since their original publication, various chapters of these popular tales have been adapted and reprinted for younger readers in separate story books.
I love maps and this book intrigued me as soon as I saw the title. It covers the greatest cartographic phantoms covering everything from ghost islands to ship snatching beasts and uncovers the fascinating stories behind their invention. The world is depicted, not as it ever existed, but as it was thought to be along with beautiful and enthralling images to illustrate.
I chose this book because, to my mind, it is a typical Cecil Aldin publication - I am a dog lover and love Aldin's drawings. This book is written by Walter Emanuel and I think the style of writing is very similar to Cecil Aldin's. However, the speech is slightly more forthright and tickles my sense of humour - for example:
"Then my master has given me the absurd name of Gibus, because, he says, my face reminds him of his opera hat when it is shut up. I only know one name more absurd, and that is Chicky [the baby in the story]. Which reminds me that it is pretty evident that I am intended to play second fiddle to that brat, and I don't intend to do it."
50 years ago on 20th July 1969 the first men stepped onto the moon. The book I have chosen was published in 1954 – seven years before Yuri Gagarin, a Russian cosmonaut, became the first man to go into space and orbit the earth and fifteen years before the first moon landing. It is written by Arthur C. Clarke who was a science writer and a visionary when it came to space travel. In 1954 space science was new and still very much in the realms of fiction and fantasy. Jules Verne and H G Wells notably wrote adventure stories about travelling to the Moon and, although they were great fun, they offered no real insight into how this could be achieved.
Treasures from Tsarskoye Seloby Emmanuel Ducamp with photographs by Marc Walter
Tsarskoye Selo is just outside St Petersburg and is more than 300 years old.
It was originally a modest summer residence for Catherine I, second wife of Peter the Great.
It has since been rebuilt and then refurbished by the Empress Elizabeth and Catherine the Great who developed it as a Royal Country residence. It is now a World Heritage site.
Over the years it had been plundered and left derelict and during WW2 many of the buildings were destroyed. When the war was over a redevelopment and reconstruction plan was put into place. Sadly some of the interiors were destroyed and are now only known through paintings and photographs.
The title of this book may seem off putting, but when this sumptuous leather bound book with gilt titles and vignette is opened, a stunning work is revealed. This edition was published in 1989 and was limited to just 1250 copies. The copy we have in stock at the time of writing is number 1112 and is signed by the publisher John F. Richardson of The Directors' Collection Ltd.
There are 60 specially commissioned, full page colour reproductions of artwork from eighteen leading South African artists with descriptive narrative and photographs facing each one. Each page depicts the life and death dramas played out as a necessary part of survival for all manner of creatures in Africa, from mammals to birds. Each artwork is also signed by the artist.
The naturalist in question and the author of this book is H.N (Henry Nottidge) Moseley, a British scientist who took part in the voyage of HMS Challenger around the world in the years 1872-1876. His observations are the subject of this fascinating and informative book, published in 1879, and dedicated to Charles Darwin “who has personally given me much kindly encouragement in the prosecution of my studies.”
The Royal Society of London obtained the use of Challenger from the Royal Navy and in 1872 modified the ship for scientific tasks, equipping her with separate laboratories for natural history and chemistry. The object of the journey was to investigate scientifically the physical conditions and natural history of the deep sea all over the world.
First published in 1972, the novel was Richard Adams' first and I was surprised to learn that it was rejected by a number of publishers before Collins accepted it. The book then went on to win the annual Carnegie Medal, the Guardian Prize and other book awards. The story was originally told to the author's daughters on a long car journey. It was only by their persistence that Adams put pen to paper.
Set in Southern England, Watership Down is a story of survival and adventure featuring a small group of rabbits who escape the destruction of their warren and seek a new home. The title actually refers to the rabbits' destination, Watership Down, a hill in the north of Hampshire, near the area where the author grew up.
Just recently, here at Stella & Rose's Books, we have had two copies of this oversized soft-cover book come into stock. I decided to take a peek inside and discover more about this book.
This title is actually the first in which we are introduced to the character Toby Twirl. Created by author Sheila Hodgetts and brought to life by illustrator Edward Jeffrey, Toby Twirl is a young pig, but he walks upright, has human hands and feet and wears blue dungarees. It is said that Jeffrey based the illustrations on a soft toy made by his wife.
Sir Walter Besant's (1836-1901) work on London is truly impressive in its scope, and is fascinating to anyone with an interest in this great city.
Besant was a prolific writer, producing a number of novels during his literary collaboration with James Rice, and then a greater number on his own after the latter's death. He also helped to found the Society of Authors in 1884, and had a keen interest in improving the living conditions of London's poor. He was Treasurer of the Atlantic Union which sought to improve relations between Britons and Americans, and he received his Knighthood in 1895.
This month we are doing something slightly different: instead of one featured book, we are each writing a short piece about our favourite illustrators...
My favourite illustrator is Mabel Lucie Attwell (1879-1964). I just love her chubby children and pixies. She is probably most famous for the Boo-Boo series of books (the Boo-Boos being cute little Pixies) but she also illustrated classic stories such as Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland. As a teenager I collected her postcards and still have an album full somewhere.... maybe they will be worth a fortune one day!
There are so many of them! I have decided to feature Anthony Browne, a modern illustrator of children's books. He has 50 titles to his name and has won the Kate Greenaway medal for his book Gorilla in 1983 and also Zoo in 1992. Most of his works are picture books (containing minimal text) with bold and colourful illustrations. However, one of my favourite works of his is Alice's Adventures in Wonderland... just because!
I have always enjoyed reading historical novels and have learnt a lot of history through them and think this was probably the first such book that I read. It is set in the 1930's and features a family affected by the rise of the Nazis and what happens when they have to leave their homeland.
Written by Judith Kerr, it is described as a semi-autobiographical novel about a young Jewish girl and her family who flee from the Nazis, leaving Germany in 1933. Judith Kerr wrote the story in response to a remark from her young son after seeing the film, The Sound of Music. He said that now we know what life was like when Mummy was a young girl. Judith wanted him to know what is was really like having to flee from home and friends to become a refugee. Alfred Kerr, Judith's father, was a noted journalist, drama critic and screenwriter who openly criticised the Nazis. The family were Jewish.
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Who of us is not familiar with the adventures of Ratty and Mole and their timeless adventures which have enchanted children and parents alike for more than a century?
The story starts when Mole decides to visit the river bank one sunny morning instead of doing his spring cleaning (who can blame him?). Here he bumps into Ratty and thus starts their marvellous adventures... along the way, we also meet Badger and Toad - the four of them friends and neighbours in the English countryside.
Published by the Daily Express the year after World War 2 ended, paper was still in short supply so War Economy Standard was still in use and the annual was produced with soft covers.
If you are a Rupert fan you may be aware that most of the Rupert annuals from the very first one (1936) to the 1970 edition have been reproduced in facsimile editions. However, a few of them haven't due to politcally incorrect content and this is one of them. In fact, it is the first of those not to be reproduced. It has now become very scarce as Rupert collectors want to collect the full set and without a facsimile of this edition they have to buy the 'real thing'.
Many people are familiar with Maurice Sendak as a children's author and illustrator. This book is written by his father Philip Sendak with illustrations by Maurice. Nearly every story by Maurice Sendak seems to be influenced by his own childhood and the sadness and fragility he felt as a child. He often writes about a child in danger and there is often a “dark” quality to the stories. The Sendak home was not a happy one. Philip was traumatised by events in his life and by discovering that his extended family left behind in Poland had all died in the Holocaust. Sarah suffered from depression. Their misery and “craziness” filtered down to Sendak and he believed that this led him to become an artist and influenced the type of artist he was.
This book is full of vibrant illustrations and tells the story of the first paperbacks, their authors and illustrators.
We are told that 'early novels were mainly printed in hardback and although beautifully printed they were an expensive luxury at 3/6d.'
At the same time as publishers were looking to see how they could improve sales, we see the advent of Free Schools and libraries and a more literate working class, who like everybody else liked to read as a form of escapism.
This signed limited edition copy, illustrated by Edward Roper F.R.G.S. and published in 1894, called to me on two levels as I wandered the aisles of our Special Book Room. The first way it caught my eye was simply that my daughter works in The Peak District and as soon as I opened it I was captivated by the language used.
In the preface the author writes: