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Stella & Rose's Books

Specialists in Rare & collectable books

Big Animal Rag Book

Big Animal Rag Book Illustrated by A.E. Kennedy

Stella and Rose’s copy of this rag book is dated circa 1939, number 344 and is beautifully illustrated by A.E. Kennedy with colour pictures of animals that are still bright after all these years.  Albert Ernest Kennedy was born in 1883 in Leyton, London and died at the age of eighty.  He was the elder brother of the notable flower painter Cecil Kennedy.

Rag books were patented by Dean’s Rag Book Company in 1903 by Henry Samuel Dean with the trademark logo designed by Stanley Berkley of a bulldog and terrier fighting over a rag book “quite indestructible, washable & hygienic”.  Their catchy advertising phase was for “those who wear their food and eat their clothes”. 

(Published 16th Nov 2021) Read full article

The Wind In The Willows By Kenneth Grahame Illustrated by Charles van Sandwyk

The Wind In The Willows By Kenneth Grahame Illustrated by Charles van Sandwyk published by the Folio Society

Several articles about The Wind in The Willows have been written by our staff over the years but this book demands yet another! It is the Centenary Edition published by the Folio Society in 2008 to mark the 100th anniversary of the publication of this classic tale. Limited to 1000 copies this is truly a collector’s item.

(Published 12th Oct 2021) Read full article

Cassell’s Wild Flowers of Britain and Northern Europe

Cassell’s Wild Flowers of Britain and Northern Europe Illustrated by Marjorie Blamey

“I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine:There sleeps Titania sometime of the night,Lull’d in these flowers with dances and delight;And there the snake throws her enamell’d skin,Weed wide enough to wrap a fairy in:………..”

This passage from Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream evokes the magic that we feel when we see wild flowers growing and thriving in our countryside. The names of the flowers are part of our shared memories.  Many of the flowers mentioned above are in this month’s featured book – Woodbine (type of honeysuckle), Eglantine (briar rose), Violet and Wild Thyme. They can delight now just as they clearly moved Shakespeare to create his fairy bower with them.

(Published 9th Sep 2021) Read full article

Goodwood Revival: The First Ten Years

Goodwood Revival: The First Ten Years by Doug Nye

As a self-confessed petrol-head, I love all things with four wheels and an engine – especially when raced! However, I note in recent years that my interest in more modern vehicles has waned, and I even find myself showing little interest in watching Formula 1 races – something I used to love. There are probably many reasons for that, and such a discussion is well outside the scope of this article. However, it’s made me realise that I find much more enjoyment in watching and, when possible, tinkering with classic cars rather than modern.

(Published 10th Aug 2021) Read full article

Sugar-Plums and Sherbet – The Prehistory of Sweets

Sugar-Plums and Sherbet – The Prehistory of Sweets by Laura Mason

Sweets. We all like sweets and ate them as children. I remember it was a special treat to go to the shops to buy some sweets and then having to choose from the rows of jars. It was not easy! Sherbet was my favourite, but I don’t seem to be able to find it anymore. That is part of the history of sweets in that they have changed and been reinvented over the years. The term sweets to me means boiled sweets such as humbugs, barley sugar, seaside rock and jelly types such as jellybeans as well as marshmallows. It seems though that we use the term to include just about anything sweet such as chocolate, fudge, liquorice, puddings and desserts. Chocolate only became a competitor to sugar confectionary after about 1850. The confusion arises where its uses were overlapping: a medicine, preserving agent and spice. Do you know how they get the letters into seaside Rock? How they twisted barley sugar?  The difference between fudge and tablet?  

(Published 13th Jul 2021) Read full article

World Tree Story – History and Legends of the World’s Ancient Trees By Julian Hight

World Tree Story – History and Legends of the World’s Ancient Trees by Julian Hight

This book caught my eye as I am in the process of growing an oak tree in my garden. Last September/October I came across an initiative from BBC Radio Gloucestershire called ‘Ourboretum’ whereby you grow an Oak, Hazelnut or Beech tree until it is a small sapling and then they will arrange for it to be replanted. It is too late to join the scheme now as the seeds had to be collected last October and planted then. My sapling is now approximately 4cm high and my husband and I are incredibly proud!

(Published 2nd Jun 2021) Read full article

Peter Pan In Scarlet by Geraldine McCaughrean

Peter Pan In Scarlet by Geraldine McCaughrean

Sequel(s) – Definition: Subsequent development or the next instalment as of a speech or story; a continuation of a much-loved story and its characters,

How do you feel about sequels when it comes to books?  There are many sequels (and prequels) with authors devoting their careers to sharing stories that interweave and continue the tales around certain characters and places of their creation. Perhaps many of these would be called a 'series' of books, as there can be more than 3 or 4 stories in the set. Some of us love these, but others perhaps prefer to use their own imagination for any further adventures - after all, how can you do better than the original? But what about a sequel to a story that was first written around 100 years previously?

(Published 11th May 2021) Read full article

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

First published in the US in 1969 by World Publishing Company the British edition was published the following year in 1970 by Hamish Hamilton.  The book has proved enormously popular with children ever since and has recently enjoyed a huge comeback with popular merchandise being produced to sell alongside the book (toys, children’s food utensils, bedding, bookends, photo frames etc etc).

It is a fantastic book full of vivid colour illustrations and simple text.  Watch as the caterpillar crawls through the book munching all the delicious food and finally the ultimate metamorphosis from 'hungry caterpillar' to 'beautiful butterfly’.

(Published 6th Apr 2021) Read full article

Picturesque Representations of the Dress and Manners of the English

Picturesque Representations of the Dress and Manners of the English

Front and Spine; Plate VII: Dustman

This is a wonderful book, depicting fifty different social types of the 1800s. From The Sovereign to a Farmer’s Boy; a Judge to a Gipsy (spelt Gipsey in this antiquarian tome). Full of glorious hand-coloured aquatint plates and a facing page of accompanying textual history, it depicts a huge range of social types and customs.

(Published 2nd Mar 2021) Read full article

Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam illustrated by Edmund Dulac

Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam illustrated by Edmund Dulac

The Moving Finger…….

As a child I had an illustrated copy of Arabian Nights.  I was fascinated by those pictures and stories.  It conjured up an exotic world that seemed magical and so far removed from my own.  That is why I am drawn to this copy of “The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam”.  It is beautifully illustrated by Edmund Dulac and seems once again to transport me to ancient Persia and to the minarets and medinas, to the souks and the desert oases where people could sit under a tree and eat figs and fruit they had picked there.   

(Published 9th Feb 2021) Read full article

My Life on Lundy By Felix W. Gade

My Life on Lundy By Felix W. Gade (Limited & New edition 1997 500 copies) 

I love coming across books that deepen my interest in places I have already visited, I just want to return with all this fresh information buzzing in my head and to use the fold out map to enable better visualisation.

This is just such a book.  It covers in detail the long and eventful period of Felix Gade's life when he lived and worked on the isle of Lundy between 1926 and 1973, excepting 1945-1949.

(Published 17th Dec 2020) Read full article

The Three Railway Engines by Rev. W. Awdry

The Three Railway Engines by Rev. W. Awdry

This is the very first title in the popular Railway Series and was originally published in 1945.  There are 42 titles in the series, 26 of which were written by Rev. W. Awdry and a further 16 which were written by his son, Christopher.

Nearly all the stories within The Railway Series books were based on real-life events. Rev. Awdry was a lifelong railway enthusiast and he was keen that his stories should be as realistic as possible. The engine characters were generally based on real classes of locomotives and some of the railways were based upon real railway lines within the British Isles.

(Published 8th Dec 2020) Read full article

A History of the Earth and Animated Nature by Oliver Goldsmith

A History of the Earth and Animated Nature by Oliver Goldsmith

“Animated nature”. The title had me puzzled when I saw this two -volume set of books. Animated means excited, lively, spirited does it not?  This will be interesting, I thought, a description of excited, lively, spirited Nature! But, as I found, there is another definition of animated  – “endowed with life or the qualities of life”. Ah, this makes more sense. The history of the earth (inanimate) and the life on it (animate). And so I progressed beyond the title page…

In addition to A History of the Earth etc, we also have “An Introductory View of the Animal Kingdom” by Baron Cuver and “Copious Notes of Discoveries in Natural History and A Life of the Author” by Washington Irving. So lots to get my teeth into!

(Published 4th Nov 2020) Read full article

Jenny the Jeep

Jenny the Jeep by Jack Townend

Knowing my interest in all things motoring, and especially in Willys Jeeps, my colleague recently showed me an interesting and (I believe) most unusual book about a very special Jeep. My last featured book article featured an amphibious World War II Jeep named Half-Safe and so I thought I’d continue the Jeep theme this month. I wonder how many more Jeep related books I can find… watch this space!

Anyhow, this Jeep book could not be more different from Half-Safe. Jenny the Jeep is the story of a pink (yes – PINK) Jeep that is picked on by her fellow green Jeeps for being different. But despite the bullying, plucky little Jenny perseveres, does her bit for the war effort and becomes a hero!

(Published 7th Oct 2020) Read full article

The Lure of Speed

The Lure of Speed by Henry Segrave, Published by Hutchinson in 1928

Sir Henry Seagrave, an early pioneer in the world of motor sport gives a fascinating insight into early 20th century motor racing. He explains that in 1928 when this book was written that motor racing is much safer than when it started the century before, even though casualties occurred at virtually every race! He talks about racing past, present and future describing with a sound technical sense and in detail his record of a unique racing career over eight years, and the story of his life with modesty and restraint. His recall for all the events he entered is amazing, listing the state of the track, the problems before and during the race and who won or lost. 

(Published 8th Sep 2020) Read full article

The Dodo and its Kindred

The Dodo and its Kindred by H.E. Strickland and A.G. Melville

“As dead as a Dodo!” Many will be familiar with this saying. But how many will, like me, not be familiar with the story that lies behind this fabled bird? When and why did the dodo become extinct? What did it look like? What did it eat? Where was it to be found?

On discovering this book in our Special Book Room, I was immediately fascinated. Published in 1848, here was an entire work dedicated to the Dodo and other extinct birds or, as the rather imposing subtitle reads, “The History, Affinities, and Osteology of the Dodo, Solitaire, and Other Extinct Birds of the Islands of Mauritius, Rodriguez, and Bourbon”. So one question answered already – the Dodo was to be found on the islands of Mauritius, Rodrigues and Bourbon (now named Reunion Island) which lie about 1200 miles off the south-east coast of the African continent.

(Published 4th Aug 2020) Read full article

Alice's Adventures In Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Scavenger hunt question (clue - you may be able to find this item in your house).

'Roses are white, but they should be red,I'll help you play croquet, unless you me behead.'

Alice's Adventures In Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Originally titled 'Alice's Adventures Under Ground', the author Lewis Carroll (real name Charles Dodgson) gave the story, in manuscript form with his own accompanying illustrations, as a gift to the young Alice Liddell (The Real Alice). Carroll had invented the story to keep the three Liddell children occupied on a day out rowing up the river to enjoy a picnic. (See Chris's article 'The Real Alice' for more detailed information).

(Published 7th Jul 2020) Read full article

Edward Hopper

This book was produced to coincide with the exhibition at the Tate Modern in 2004. I was lucky enough to go to the Tate Modern to see this exhibition and it was stunning! The book follows the life and works of Edward Hopper and would be ideal for an Edward Hopper fan.

So let me tell you a little about him. Edward Hopper was born in 1882 in Nyack, New York. He showed a talent for drawing from an early age, even then playing with light and shadow, a theme he continued throughout his work. He first studied art via a correspondence course but later transferred to the New York School of Art and Design where he studied under the inspirational teacher Robert Henri. Hopper once said of Robert Henri “Few teachers of art have got as much out of their pupils, or given them as great an initial impetus”. Robert Henri was founder of the Ashcan School of Art which was concerned with representing ordinary everyday subjects, people at work and urban scenes.

(Published 9th Jun 2020) Read full article

Tennyson’s Guinevere and Other Poems

Tennyson’s Guinevere and Other Poems

Written by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.Illustrated by Florence HarrisonPublished by Blackie and Son Ltd Deluxe 1st edition 1912

If we think of the Golden Age of illustrators, we tend to think of luminaries such as Arthur RackhamKay Nielsen and Edmund Dulac. However amongst these illustrators of the Golden Age we also find women illustrators such as Kate GreenawayJessie Willcox Smith and Florence Harrison to name but a few, no less talented, but perhaps less sung about. So this is what initially led me to my choice of book, which is quite beautiful in every way.

(Published 5th May 2020) Read full article

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien Deluxe Edition

How many of you have read The Lord of the Rings from beginning to end? No, watching the films does not count! I have to admit that it took me three attempts to get through it. I finally managed to read the entire three books in my mid-teens. When I had accomplished this no small feat, I found that I did enjoy it. My favourite characters are Gollum and Shelob. Why? I couldn’t say… I think I like Gollum’s childlike simplicity although I might be biased with images of Gollum in the films turning his back and muttering ‘My precious’. Shelob is a huge spider guarding the pass into Mordor. Being a tarantula keeper, I guess it just fell into place.

(Published 7th Apr 2020) Read full article