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Stella & Rose's Books

Specialists in Rare & Collectable Books

The Ship That Sailed to Mars by William M. Timlin

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William M. Timlin who wrote and illustrated this book was born April 1892. He showed a great gift for drawing at Morpeth Grammar School and won a scholarship to the Armstrong College of Art in Newcastle. In 1912 he emigrated to South Africa where he remained for the rest of his life

Timlin first concentrated his artistic efforts in the field of landscape, and his pictures in the genre, pastels, oils and etching proved popular when shown in one-man exhibitions. He was soon in regular demand as an illustrator for local magazines and publishing houses, providing work for volumes of plays and poetry, and several travel books. He also showed a flair for writing stories and music.

(Published 17th Dec 2014) Read full article

The Secret Seven - Enid Blyton

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The Secret Seven series of 15 books, by prolific author Enid Blyton, follows the adventures of a strictly secret society made up of 7 children, who like to solve mysteries that they happen upon, or actively go looking for!

The History:

Although many may think, like I did before doing this research, that The Secret Seven - the first title in this series - is the first time we are introduced to the seven, this is not the case. In 1947, At Seaside Cottage a small volume was published by Brockhampton Press and featured the main characters of Peter and Janet, with their golden spaniel, Scamper. A year later in 1948, Secret of the Old Mill was published, in which Peter and Janet, after reading a book called The Secret Society, decide to create a secret society of their own, using the old mill on a hill near their home as a meeting place. They invite five of their friends to join them, and so The Secret Seven are born.

(Published 17th Dec 2014) Read full article

The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam - Edward Fitzgerald

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Here with a Loaf of Breadbeneath the BoughA Flask of Wine,a Book ofVerse - and ThouBeside me singing in theWilderness -And Wilderness is Paradiseenow.

It is perhaps ironic that while the title of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam evokes images of the Persian East, the translation with which most are familiar is considered to be a great work of English literature in its own right.It may also surprise some that this translation which was to become so popular in Victorian England, and which has spawned a host of subsequent versions by other authors & poets, was met with indifference when first published in 1859.

(Published 17th Dec 2014) Read full article

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

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Daniel Foe was born in London in 1660, the son of Presbyterian Dissenters and was educated at a dissenting academy at a time when the government did not look kindly on those who practised their religionoutside the Church of England.

In his adult life he became a successful merchant and though he was able to buy a country estate he was usually heavily in debt. It was during this time that he added the "De" to his name, believing it sounded more gentlemanly or aristocratic. This was also when he became an enthusiastic pamphleteer, publishing many essays generally critical of the political establishment. One such, entitled "The Shortest Way with Dissenters", published in 1702, was a satire directed at the established church and led him to spend three days in the pillory before being sent to Newgate Prison and kept there until he was able to pay his fine. Fortunately for him the Earl of Oxford and Earl Mortimer negotiated his release in return for certain obligations. Defoe then was able to continue with his writing and established a periodical entitled "A Review of the Affairs of France". Some of his writing at this time is now regarded as the first examples of modern journalism and by 1719 having written hundreds of essays, accounts, poems and other texts he decided to turn his hand to fiction.

(Published 17th Dec 2014) Read full article

Robins by Chris Mead

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There couldn't be anything else for me this month other than a book about birds, we have recently bought a lovely collection of bird books, which I have been industriously putting on display.

I could have chosen 'A Reconnaissance of the Game Birds of Hawaii' or 'A Guide to the Birds of Nepal' or 'Australian Parrots', but I have chosen a book about my favourite garden bird - the Robin.

(Published 17th Dec 2014) Read full article

The Ring Of The Niblung by Richard Wagner, Illustrated by Arthur Rackham

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Richard Wagner, well-known composer & musician of the 1800's, spent 26 years from the age of 35 until he was 61, writing the text and composing the music for a four-part music-drama, Der Ring des Niebelungen (The Ring of the Niblung) which was first performed in 1876. The work is based on Norse and German mythology and the characters include gods, half-gods, nymphs, dwarves and giants. Humans do not appear on the scene until the second part of the music-drama which is Die Walkure (The Valkyrie).

(Published 16th Dec 2014) Read full article

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

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I suppose that I should begin with a confession. Although familiar with the title and a few half-remembered quotations, until recently my exposure to this great poem had been largely through the Iron Maiden song in which extracts of the text are recited. Though the work of Bruce Dickinson is remarkable in many ways, I felt that it was time to settle down and read the original text in full.

Now, I don't have to tell you that Coleridge was a clever chap and knew a thing or two when it came to penning decent poetry - and this poem is certainly an arresting read.

(Published 16th Dec 2014) Read full article

Rich Mixture - A Motorcycle Miscellany by Phil Irving

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Philip Edward Irving OBE, C.Eng., M.I.Mech.E., M.S.A.E., born in 1903, was an Australian engineer and author, most famous for the Repco-Brabham Formula One and Vincent motorcycle engines. He also authored the books 'Tuning For Speed' and 'Motorcycle Technicalities' as well as writing a column in Motor Cycling magazine under the pseudonym 'Slide Rule' .

The aptly titled 'Rich Mixture', first published in 1976, comprises a collection of articles written by Irving for the magazines 'Popular Motorcycling' and subsequently 'Australian Motorcycle Action' ; the first installment of these archived articles featuring stories written between 1973 and 1974. Irving 's musings on subjects as diverse as 'Bike Licenses' (and, more specifically, who should be allowed to possess one!) to an entire article devoted simply to 'Valves', are often comical, frequently opinionated and always informative.

(Published 16th Dec 2014) Read full article

The Rescue Flight - Captain W.E. Johns

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"Biggles closed the door and then faced the two junior members of his flight. 'Just what do you two fellows think you're doing here?' he asked quietly. Thirty felt the blood drain from his face. 'Doing here...' he echoed foolishly.

'Yes. Who gave you permission to wear those Uniforms?'"

As with all good writers W.E. Johns has you captured in an instant, just what is going to happen next?

Left: The 'Flying Jacket' wrappper.

(Published 16th Dec 2014) Read full article

The Redwall Library - Brian Jacques

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The Redwall books, authored by Brian Jacques, are so named after the central fictional location of the stories, Redwall Abbey. The heroes are peace-loving mice, moles, shrews, squirrels, and their friends, who exhibit human characteristics in a medieval setting. They face the dark side of the animal world, represented by rats, weasels, stoats, foxes, and their villain allies, in the day-to-day struggle of good versus evil, life versus death.

The first book, simply entitled Redwall, was published in 1986 by Hutchinson. It is an epic tale which starts with a great feast being held at Redwall Abbey. Matthias, a young male mouse, is helping with the preparations. However, trouble is brewing - Cluny the Scourge, a giant rat with only one eye and a poisoned barb tail is leading a band of 400 rogues toward the Abbey! Matthias persuades the Abbey residents to stay and fight the horde. As they make their preparations for the ensuing battle, Matthias tries to decode the many ancient inscriptions throughout the Abbey believed to have been written by Martin the Warrior himself - only then can the battle be won...

(Published 16th Dec 2014) Read full article

The Railway Children by E. Nesbit

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We recently purchased a beautifully bound copy of “The Railway Children” by E. Nesbit which created within me the desire to get to know the story a little bit better. I have seen the film on television but I don't think I ever read the book as a child.... so now is my chance - although I will be reading a paperback copy, not a highly collectable one!

Originally serialised in The London Magazine during 1905 the book was first published in 1906.

(Published 16th Dec 2014) Read full article

Rail Gun by John Batchelor & Ian Hogg

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When hearing the phrase 'Rail Gun' or 'Railway Gun' many will initially think of the mighty German weapons designed by Krupp during World War I and World War II.

However, the first recorded use of railway guns was in the American Civil War, specifically the campaign against the town of Richmond. Fitted on a heavily reinforced flatcar, there was no means of traversing the weapon and aiming was achieved by moving the whole assembly along a short section of curved track. Nor was there any means of controlling recoil, and after firing the crews would rush in to apply brakes!

(Published 16th Dec 2014) Read full article

A Picturesque Description of the River Wye From the Source to its Junction with the Severn

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Digital photography this is not! Superbly illustrated this is!

Today we're accustomed to sharply accurate colour photos illustrating our guide books but let's look back at three books, spanning 200 years, each with very different artistic impressions of the Wye Valley.

Left: Fielding's stylised view of Tintern Abbey.

The centrepiece of our brief review is The River Wye by T.H. Fielding, published in 1841, containing 12 superb colour plates. The earlier book is Picturesque Views on The Wye by Samuel Ireland published in 1797 and, much more recently, The Wye Valley by Edmund Mason, published in 1987 and illustrated by John Wilford. All three books reflect each artist's interpretation of the scene before them, influenced by the tastes of their times.

(Published 16th Dec 2014) Read full article

A Picturesque Tour of the English Lakes illustrated by T.H. Fielding and J. Walton

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A book with this title could have been written at any time from the late 1700s to the present day. Before the end of the eighteenth century someone visiting the English Lake District would have been considered an Explorer, an explorer of a barren, impassable land of no use or interest, but by the end of the eighteenth century the visitor was now a Tourist.

So when was our book written? Picturesque has an "Olde Worlde" ring to it and indeed it was in 1821 that Ackermann published "A Picturesque Tour of The English Lakes Containing a Description of the Most Romantic Scenery of CumberlandWestmoreland (sic) and Lancashire with Accounts of Antient (sic) and Modern Manners and Customs and Elucidation of the History and Antiquities of the Part of the Country Etc".

(Published 16th Dec 2014) Read full article

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

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"All children, except one, grow up".

This is the opening to a children's classic that needs no introductions. For over a century, the adventures of the immortal Peter Pan have been told and re-told to different generations of enthralled children. For many their first visit to the theatre has been to see Peter Pan come to life on stage.

(Published 12th Dec 2014) Read full article

Ibsen's Peer Gynt illustrated by Arthur Rackham

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What does it mean to be true to yourself? 

The question lies at the heart of Ibsen's five act play, Peer Gynt, which was first published in 1867. The poem follows the life of the eponymous hero, from a young man in the first act to his (apparent) death at the end of the fifth act. Peer is a wastrel - a bragger, brawler and womaniser who lives a life of avoidance - yet he is still loved by a mother who is shamed by his actions.

(Published 12th Dec 2014) Read full article

Padddington Bear by Michael Bond

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Imagine, a little bear, wearing a 'funny kind of hat', sitting on an old leather suitcase that contains his favourite food - marmalade, with a tag around his neck saying 'Please look after this bear - thank-you'. There is only one bear that matches the above description - Paddington Bear!

Through the pages of the first novel bearing Paddington's name A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond, we discover his history.

Paddington, originally named Pastuso, comes from darkest Peru. He has been sent to England by his Aunt Lucy, who although looking after the orphaned bear since he was a few weeks old, has now had to go into the Home for Retired Bears in Lima. After stowing away in a lifeboat and eating marmalade, ('Bears like Marmalade'), the little bear eventually ends up at Paddington Station in London.

(Published 12th Dec 2014) Read full article

Our Old Nursery Rhymes Illustrated by H. Willebeek Le Mair

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Published originally by Augener in 1911, this collection of 30 favourite children’s rhymes features original tunes harmonized by Alfred Moffat and is beautifully illustrated in the muted tones of Dutch artist Henriette Willebeek Le Mair (1889-1966). Each rhyme is depicted on the left hand side page, either in an oval or double-oval, bordered with flowers or foliage, all in full colour. On the right hand side page, the text of the rhyme is shown with its musical score and subsequent verses, again bordered with flowers and leaves, in an oval shape. I can imagine the many children who may have owned this book being entertained by, and singing along to, the piano music.

(Published 12th Dec 2014) Read full article

Our Friend Jennings by Anthony Buckeridge

"Free on Approval. Fifty rare foreign stamps given away with each of our genuine Colonial and Empire issues. Send for free lists and sheets on approval."

When S. & S. Boddington. Ltd composed their advertisement, they could have no idea of the chain of events it would unleash - not least the apparent discovery of a Penny Black stamp in the unlikely location of Bromwich major's locker!

Right: The Penny Black stamp was... red!

Of course, a seasoned stamp-collector may have understood that the offer of free stamps was intended for those who made purchases of more valuable items from the pages of the firm's catalogue. But would-be philatelists Jennings and Darbishire were new to the game, and they could hardly believe their good fortune. "A kindly couple, these Boddingtons, to give so freely to all in need!"

(Published 12th Dec 2014) Read full article

The Origin of Humankind by Richard Leakey

It's amazing what you can deduce from a load of fossilised old bones.

Richard Leakey has made a career out of it. As a paleo-anthropologist (one who studies ancient humans as found in fossil hominid evidence such as petrifracted bones and footprints) he speculates on many of the social developments that have accompanied Humankind's biological evolution.

Where did we come from? Where are we going? What is the purpose of life? These are the fundamental questions that have puzzled philosophersscientists and probably, in one way or another, every human being that has ever lived. Leakey goes some way at least in answering part of the first question.

(Published 12th Dec 2014) Read full article