Although I, and I'm sure most other people, have heard of Rip van Winkle I wonder how many of us know the full story behind the name. The only thing I knew was that he slept for a hundred years, which he didn't, so it seems the only thing I thought I knew was wrong. Rip Van Winkle was written by Washington Irving and first published in 1819 in The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. The story is introduced as being a tale found among the papers of Irving's fictional historian Diedrich Knickerbocker, a gentleman who was very interested in the local Dutch history.
Art of the New Naturalistsby Peter Marren, Robert Gillmor and Clifford and Rosemary Ellis. Published 2009
This book explores the artwork of the New Naturalist series of books. If you are unfamiliar with the New Naturalist titles, they are a series of Natural History books. The subjects range from 'Butterflies' which was the first book published in 1945 to 'Slugs and Snails' published in 2016.
The books are much sought after and are collected as much as for their artwork as for their content.
Bentley cars, despite being a subsidiary of Volkswagen, are still British made and are today based in Crewe, England. The Bentley, largely hand built, is a 'British luxury automobile icon' according to Wikipedia.
This book, Bentley Factory Cars 1919-1931, is described as the 'first definitive history of the Bentley golden era, and covers the personalities, the commercial and financial complexities, the engineering and development work – and the primum mobile of the company, racing.'
The book contains a chronological history, also covering events prior to 1919 where an understanding of them is required to appreciate later developments. It concludes at 1931 when Bentley Motors ceased to exist and Bentley Motors (1931) Ltd took over, acting as a subsidiary of Rolls Royce.
I love this book. In winter when it is early evening and the light fades in the late afternoon it is comforting to pass houses with their lights on shining out from the windows. Sometimes you can't help glancing inside as you pass and you catch glimpses of activity within. This is my favourite time of day in winter. People are returning home and planning to stay in. Fires are lit, heating is turned up, lamps are turned on and meals are prepared. This is the time when this book should be read to children as they cosy up on the sofa.
It is a collection of short stories and poems that are beautifully illustrated. The pages seem to capture the coldness of the world outside and the contrasting warmth within our homes so well. I particularly love “A Midwinter Night's Dream” with no text, just wonderful pictures capturing the dream of a young boy before Christmas.
Birds of America was first published as a series during 1827-1838 and is the result of more than 14 years of field observation and drawings by John James Audubon (1785-1851) who was a naturalist, painter and ornithologist.
Audubon's birds were drawn from real models. He would first find and shoot the bird using fine shot and then use wire to position the bird into a natural pose. This is different from the common method of many ornithologists who would prepare and stuff the body into a rigid pose. When working on a large specimen, for example an eagle, he would spend up to four 15 hour days preparing it, studying it and sketching it. The birds were drawn life-size and this is the reason some of the birds appear to be in a contorted pose as he struggled to fit the bird on the page!
The Forest Ring is a charming tale for children, written at the start of the twentieth century, in which a young girl is instrumental in helping the Fairy World and by so-doing also transforms the lives of those in the human world. It is a tale in which the Queen Fairy and her court of helpers rub shoulders with the animals of the forest, including bears, foxes, stags and one very sleepy owl...
The author, William C. de Mille, was a successful playwright, screenwriter and film director. If you think the surname looks a little familiar, you are correct: William was the elder brother of the famous filmmaker Cecil. B. DeMille (who changed the format & capitalisation of the surname). Although he was not quite as famous as his brother, William was one of the most respected directors of the silent movie era and specialised in adapting Broadway plays into silent films.
This lovely 2 volume vellum bound edition came to us through auction recently.
Having done a little research on horn-books and battledores for my article on ABC books a while ago, I was excited and interested to have a look at this original set by Andrew W. Tuer. What would be his definition of a horn-book?
First published in 1896 by Leadenhall Press (of which Tuer was a partner), this set is still seen as an authority on horn-books. It contains much detailed research and many photographs and illustrations of the horn-books and describes how they were used to help many, many generations learn their alphabet and eventually how to read and write.
Since starting work at Stella & Rose's Books I have been privileged to see many special books: from Beatrix Potter 1st editions to signed Blyton books, from rare 1st editions to well remembered childhood favourites – and all points in between! It is still exciting to see something rare and unusual and this book certainly comes into those categories.
This copy of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner was published in 1972 by Arcadia Press to coincide with the 200th anniversary of Coleridge's birth. It is one of 110 limited editions (nos 101 – 110 were not for sale) – this copy is number 5, signed by the illustrator (Errol Le Cain), calligrapher (David Howells) and the paper maker (Phillip H. Rowson). It is a large book contained in a slipcase.
So how did Paisley in Renfrewshire become synonymous with a pattern that can trace its ancestry back to ancient Babylonia? Here is a potted history...
One of the main sources of food, shelter and house building was the Date Palm. The Date Palm came to be seen as the 'Tree of Life' and the tightly curled palm frond was a symbol of fertility and much prized by the Babylonians.
From Babylonia this motif was to spread all over the world. In India, particularly Kashmir, an early example of a shawl with this pattern dates back to the 1600s.
Revised & Updated Edition 2015
Limited edition of 100, A5 Perfect Bound, 112 page booklet.
This second edition has been updated and re-printed with a print run of 100. Primarily intended for owners of the batch of 109 Lea-Francis 14 HP Sports cars built at Coventry in 1948 but invaluable for anyone interested in classic British sports cars or contemplating owning one of these rare cars.
The author explains how he became a Lea-Francis owner and enthusiast and how after retirement restored two cars to achieve his ambition of owning and driving one of these, quintessentially British, sports cars.
28th July 2016 will be the 150th Anniversary of the birth of Helen Beatrix Potter, better known as Beatrix Potter. Her life-long love of animals and the natural world began as a child when she and her brother had many 'pets' including rabbits, mice and frogs which would one day become the subjects of some of her books. Her love of the countryside was developed during family holidays in Scotland and later in the Lake District. In later life she would settle in the Lake District and bought several farms which she would bequeath to the National Trust thus preserving the countryside.
A good friend of mine - Amy Goddard - is a folk singer and has recently released her second Album – “Secret Garden”.
I asked her why “Secret Garden” and she said it was because she loved the book and also she loves 'secret' places where you can escape for peace and quiet.
As a child The Secret Garden was one of my favourite books as well so I thought I would feature it in this month's article.
Written by Frances Hodgson Burnett and first published in 1911 the story begins when Mary Lennox, a spoilt young girl living in India, loses her parents to a severe plague of cholera and is forced to go and live with her mysterious uncle (Archibald Craven) in his large manor house (Misselthwaite Manor) on the Yorkshire Moors.
A delightful, descriptive story in verse. Originally written and illustrated by A.J. Macgregor, the verses in this Ladybird book were later revised by Walter Perring.
Bunnikin's Picnic Party tells the story of little Bunnikin and his brothers and sisters, Loppy, Fluff, Bobtail and Whiskers. Bunnikin decides one day that 'A picnic would be grand!' With their picnic all prepared by Mrs. Bunnikins, the four bunnies hop off to enjoy some fun near the 'shady woodland'.
Bobtail comes running to them when they are wood gathering 'Her excitement was intense: "Robbers, Fluff!" she stammered, breathless, "I could hear them, by the fence!" But brave Fluff finds out it's not robbers but a sleeping Pig!
This pony story tells of a very discontented pony named Merrylegs. Even though having everything a little pony needs - a field to run about in, a kindly farmer owner and farmyard friends Daisy and Squeaker -Merrylegs still begins to feel discontented with his lot in life.
After hearing stories about his great-great-grandfather who had been a great race horse, Merrylegs begins to think that "he was much too well-born to work".
The story continues with a trip with the farmer to the market, where it was 'Fair Day'. Even though still feeling above his work, Merrylegs begins to enjoy the fair day, watching all the comings and goings, hearing the happy music playing and even a Punch and Judy show! It is at the fair day that the little pony finally realizes what it is that he should become in life. He notices a roundabout and to his great surprise, it is not chairs that the children are riding on - but horses - "What horses!". 'These were lordly creatures, with proud, flashing eyes, and wide nostrils. Their long manes and tails floated out behind them, their fore-feet pawed the air, and they had coats of scarlet, with here and there a touch of gold'.
I am afraid I am biased, I LOVE Dr. Seuss' stories. What do I like about them? Mostly the nonsense rhyming as the story is told – sometimes it is very silly e.g Green Eggs and Ham ('Do you like green eggs and ham?' - anyone in their right mind would say no!). Also, the simple, colourful illustrations that accompany each story play as much a part as the text.
The Lorax is story with a moral... The plight of our Earth and the damage we humans can do...
This month's Featured Book is strictly speaking 3 books, but they do come in one slipcase, published by the Folio Society.
The illustrations are by Patrick Leger, who gives all three volumes a fabulous fifties vintage look.
It has been a long while since I have read these books. I probably read them in my early teens and if my memory serves me right, it was my first foray into the world of Science Fiction books.
When I looked at the John Wyndham bibliography, I realised that I must have liked his writing quite a lot as I have read six novels and two books of short stories.
Exploration. Curiosity. Mystery. All of these ideas are often central to a good adventure narrative, and all of them are very much plain in Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea: the tale of a scientist, his manservant and a witty whaler, all three of them captured by a mysteriously glowing vessel beneath the deep and taken forth into a whole new world by the mysterious and captivating Captain Nemo.
20,000 Leagues is considered to be one of Verne's best-known books, along with A Journey To The Centre Of The Earth and Around The World In 80 Days, but since 1979, Verne has been the second most widely-translated author in the world, in between Agatha Christie and William Shakespeare, and he's often named as one of the primary fathers of modern science fiction – Verne has in his writing an incredible penchant for describing a foreign aspect of the world in a way that pulls the reader indescribably.
Those of you who know us personally will remember that three years ago my husband Cliff and I sold our house, gave away most of our possessions, bought a truck and fifth wheel trailer and became nomads! We have since toured through France, Spain and Portugal and loved every minute of it, which is why this particular book caught my eye – Caravanning and Camping – but in 1933! I wondered how much has changed in the last 80 years since the book was published.
The concept of caravanning as a leisure pastime was unheard of until the Scottish author Gordon Stables, having admired the gipsy wagons in his neighbourhood, embarked on a life as a self-styled Gentleman Gipsy. The two-ton 'Land-Yacht Wanderer', a Pullman carriage drawn by two horses, was designed by Stables and built by the Bristol Waggon company. In 1885 Stables set off on his journeys of 1300 miles taking him around England and finally to Inverness in Scotland. But that's a subject for another article – back to our book of Caravanning and Camping in 1933.
This exquisite book has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. A treasured possession of my late mother from her own childhood, I remember it so vividly: the sheer overwhelming scale of it when you're three years old, the crackle of the spine, oh! the smell of the paper. For many years I remember it being stored in the bottom of my parents' wardrobe, protected from sunlight and daily knocks.
Despite the fact that I had grown up with this book, I knew very little about it apart from the suspicion that it dated from either the late forties or early fifties, and seemed to be quite rare. Certainly, I had never seen another copy until I started work at Stella Books and saw a copy in our Special Book Room. It was then that I discovered that it is quite hard to find original copies that retain their dustjackets, and that the book is much sought by collectors.
Being specialists in children's books, Kenneth Grahame is most well known to us as the author of The Wind in the Willows - with its many editions, illustrated; abridged; old and modern. However, what of Grahame's other works?
We recently acquired a collection of books into stock by Kenneth Grahame, so it was time for me to learn a little more about his other works as well.
Grahame started out by writing essays which were published in magazines such as St. James Gazette, the National Observer and the Yellow Book. A selection of these essays featured a family of orphaned children and their guardians.