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Stella & Rose's Books

Specialists in Rare & collectable books

John Wyndham: Three Novels

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.

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea by Jules Verne

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.

Caravanning and Camping by A.H.M. Ward

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.

A Day In Fairy Land

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.

The Books of Kenneth Grahame

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.

Ian Allan - ABC series of locomotive listing books

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I first encountered Ian Allan in 1961. I should make it clear that I never actually met the man himself, indeed at that time I doubt I realised there was an Ian Allan. No, my encounter was through his ABC series of locomotive listing books, the first of which was published in 1942.

The Mozart Question by Michael Morpurgo

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Michael Morpurgo has written over 100 books, many of them based on actual events. He weaves the events into his stories, mixing in facts with fiction to create memorable tales. So, for example, 'Running Wild' tells of a boy who survives the Indonesian Tsunami and 'Out of the Ashes' is the story of a family struggling to survive the foot and mouth crisis. Several of his books deal with aspects of war in a way that get across the facts and just what is was like to live through - 'War Horse' being perhaps the most well known of these. 'The Mozart Question' features the Second World War and one particular horrific aspect of it – the concentration camp. But it also shows how music helped some people to survive these atrocities.

Visionaire No. 17 – Gold

"The alternative small run publication has often dazzled, always relentlessly focused on changing the way we look at the printed page. Looking haughtily over its shoulder to fleur's flair, Visionaire rolls up its sleeves, cups its hands to its mouth, flexes it muscles and whispers, "The eyes have it."

- David Bowie

This particular issue of the highly collectible, multi-format, luxury art and fashion publication based in New York City, with its heavily embellished, gilded and incredibly ornate cover, was inevitably going to appeal to the magpie in me! I have an unashamed love of all things 'baroque' and when this issue came into the office amongst other art books purchased at a recent auction, I was immediately drawn to its luminous gold exterior and intrigued to learn what treasures it might reveal upon closer inspection of the contents. Beneath the hologrammed, embossed, and foil-stamped sun motif hides a shallow box of curiosities, each more intriguing than the last and each with its own unique take on the theme of 'gold', including: Seven pages of Philip Taaffe’s gold stars foil stamped onto vellum, Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin’s fashion photographs featuring gold-foil stamping to four-color prints Origami USA, who folded a gold-paper goldfish for each issue and, my personal favourite, Todd Oldham's contribution of an actual gilded-metal halo!

Kingfishers and Related Birds Alcedinidae (2 volumes)

This work is published in three parts, each part consisting of two volumes. Our featured book is Part One and is complete with the two volumes. Anyone familiar with Lansdowne Editions will know them for their sheer size and wonderful illustrations. This is not a book that you can curl up with on a cold winter's evening in front of the fire, you can, however, sit at a table and peruse the volumes in front of a nice warm fire! (Of course, the fire does not have to be there in order for you to enjoy these elephantine volumes – one alone weighing 5.8kg!!).

This is the Collector's Issue and only issue of the first edition of Kingfishers and Related Birds. Limited to 1000 copies and signed by the author: Joseph M. Forshaw, an Australian ornithologist with particular expertise in parrots, and by the illustrator: William T. Cooper a renowned Australian nature artist, this is copy 791. Included with the books is also a signed limited edition plate reproduced from the second volume.

Face to Face: Three Centuries of Artists' Self-Portraiture by Xanthe Brooke

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This catalogue was produced to accompany an exhibition at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool at the end of 1994. The exhibition focused on self portraits from the Walker Gallery itself but included many paintings from around the British Isles.  

Self-portraiture was a popular method of painting, it was also cheap and you could always rely on the sitter! The popularity of the Self-Portrait went hand in hand with the technology of developing non distorting mirrors, flat mirrors, thus enabling an artist to view themselves better. It was the 17th century that saw the real boom in self-portraiture and one of the most prolific artists of self-portraiture, Rembrandt van Rijn (below centre as young man, right as old man).  

The Cloak by Leon Garfield

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The story, which starts in London on a snowy New Year's Day, is about two friends who are apprentices to pawnbrokers. Amos Coot, a sixteen year old in the fourth year of his apprenticeship, works for Mr. Thompson – Personal Banking on Moderate Terms. Jeremiah Snipe is apprentice to Mr Long – Loans arranged for Modest Security.

The two friends have been left in charge of their respective shops by their employers who have gone away to the country for the festive period. Both apprentices have been trained by ruthless employers. In Mr Thompson's words ' A pawner is a man in difficulties and a man in difficulties is a man in despair. Despair makes a man untrustworthy, it turns him into a liar, a swindler, a cheat'. He maintains that they always tell you they will return to redeem their item - that it is only a loan they are having. 'But like tomorrow, they never come' he adds 'So you watch out!'

Our Darlings

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Our Darlings "The Best Monthly Magazine For Young Folks"

We recently purchased a collection of annuals from auction. In among them were a few copies of “Our Darlings”. These annuals really stood out to me as they are attractive books with pictorial front covers and illustrated by well known artists of the time (the editions we purchased were from the early 1900's).

Above: Example of front cover, and Leigh Kidman illustration

Arists included Ernest Aris, Louis Wain, E.S. Hardy, Harry B. Neilson, Leigh Kidman, Jaques Browne, Chris Temple, although most illustrations are uncredited (no signature present).

Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens by J.M. Barrie

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This week, while packing up to move house – I've been going through my bookcase to see which books to give away (none so far) and I came across my facsimile copy of 'Peter Pan In Kensington Gardens' by J.M. Barrie and illustrated by Arthur Rackham.

Originally published in 1906, Barrie utilises many chapters of 'The Little White Bird' (published in 1902), with only a few changes in text. 'The Little White Bird' was seen as a novel for adults, where Peter Pan is introduced, but 'Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens' was produced purely as a children's book, with stunning illustrations to match.

The Observer's Book of Vintage Cars and Pre-War Classics (92) by Mark White

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Issued in 1982, it was printed with Laminate boards, with the image of 4.5 Litre Bentley, Vanden Plas to the front cover. There was only one issue of this particular observer, making it one of the harder to find books.

It contains A foreword by Lord Montagu of Beaulieu, and has 11 colour and 45 black and white photographs, 184 printed pages. The format of the book is an A-Z guide. . This is the Partner book to The observer's book of Classic Cars, which deals with the post war classics. The last book to be listed on the rear cover is No. 82 Gardens

Worrals Flies Again by W.E. Johns

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Firstly let me introduce you to Flight Officer Joan Worralson, known to her friends as 'Worrals'. She is a member of the Women's Auxiliary Air Force (W.A.A.F.) the female section of the Royal Air Force (R.A.F.) established in real life in 1939. From the earlier book Worrals of the W.A.A.F. we learn that Worrals's job is supposed to be ferrying aeroplanes from one airfield to another, mainly for maintenance reasons, and she was not in any circumstances to engage in combat.

Winnie The Pooh by A.A. Milne

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Many generations have come to know and love the self-confessed ‘bear of little brain’ – Winnie-The-Pooh. What though, do we know of his history?

Winnie-The-Pooh’s history starts way back during the first world war, when during a stop-off in Canada, on his way to Europe, a lieutenant called Harry Colebourn bought a small black female bear cub for 20 dollars from a hunter. He named her ‘Winnipeg’ after his home town of Winnipeg and she was called ‘Winnie’ for short. Winnie became the mascot for the brigade. When posted to France, Lt. Colebourn took Winnie to London Zoo, where she stayed on a long loan, until she was formally presented to the zoo in the December of 1919.

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

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From the start

"The Mole had been working very hard all morning..."

to the finish

"but it never failed to have its full effect."

this is a story that has captivated us all, boy or girl, young or old. The characters are instantly recognised by all, and who would be able to resist the chance to visit the river bank and meet up with them.

Rene Cloke (left) and Babette Cole (below right) are among those who have provided illustrations for this popular tale.

When We Were Very Young by A.A. Milne

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'Little boy kneels at the foot of the bed,Droops on the little hands little gold head,Hush! Hush! Whisper who dares!Christopher Robin is saying his prayers...'

Those classic lines of children's poetry are to be found on any nursery bookshelf in the book'When We Were Very Young'. Yet, how did the author of detective novels become world famous for a quartet of children's verse and prose revolving around a child and his teddy?

Alan Alexander Milne was born in 1882 in London. At a young age he developed an insatiable appetite for reading. In 1903, Milne had his first book published entitled 'Lovers in London'. Later, Milne began to produce a weekly feature for the magazine 'Punch'. After some time, the author decided to stretch his literary muscles by writing plays, some of which were quite successful. Then, in 1922 Milne wrote a detective story entitled 'The Red House Mystery'. This was an instant success and prompted Curtis Brown to contract Milne to write three more novels. Milne was finally realising his dream of becoming a serious dramatist and adult novelist! However, things were about to change...

West Highland White Terriers An Owner's Companion by Roger Wright

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This is the book I should have bought for Katie (my middle daughter) as part of her 18th Birthday present. Instead we bought her the dog! Well actually on the day of her birthday she got his collar tag – Barney arrived a couple of weeks later when he was old enough to leave his mother. We hadn't set out to get a Westie but friends had a litter and there was one male left. Katie didn't so much choose Barney as he chose her by coming to her and sitting on her foot! He had been the runt of the litter and was initially hand fed but he's now strong and healthy and the apple of his mistress's eye.

Waterways of the World by W.J. Bassett-Lowke, illustrated by Laurence Dunn

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Waterways of the World is an interesting factual book in the Puffin Picture Book series. These small, colourful, softcover books are always informative, being written largely for children in a relatively simple and concise manner.

The book begins with the Great Rivers, describing the Ganges of India, the Yangtse of China, the Nile, the Thames, The Mississippi and the Rhine. Each page has a description of the rise and flow of the river along with illustrations and facts.