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Stella & Rose's Books

Specialists in Rare & collectable books

Here Comes Thursday by Michael Bond

There can't be many people who haven't heard of Paddington Bear, created byMichael Bond. But I wonder how many of the other characters created by Michael Bond you know of. Amongst them are Parsley the lion & Dill the dog from The Herbs, Olga da Polga - a guinea pig, a dog called Pomme Frites who accompanies his master in the Monsieur Pampelmousse series, even an armadillo called J.D. Polsen. And then there is a mouse called Thursday.

Thursday made his first appearance in Here Comes Thursday in 1966. The book is delightfully illustrated by Daphne Rowles with some very detailed black and white drawings. When we first meet Thursday he is causing a stir by floating in a strange object towards the organ loft cupboard of St. Mary's in the Valley. The resident family of mice can't identify this mystery object in the sky and are very concerned that it may be something sinister, until Grandpa Aristide points out that it is a balloon - with a label and a bag tied to its side. They manage to guide the balloon into their cupboard where the inhabitant of the bag wakes up to find himself surrounded by the Peck family.

(Published 9th Dec 2014) Read full article

Heath Robinson on Leather

“It is an old proverb that there is nothing quite like leather, and the opinion is equally widely held, though of more recent date, that there is nobody quite likeHeath Robinson.”

So begins the Preface to this remarkable Collected Edition of illustrated essays crafted by W. Heath Robinson in which 'the difficult and recondite subject of Leather' may be 'illumined by such moonbeams from the larger lunacy'.

W. Heath Robinson (1872-1944) had initially sought to make a living as a landscape painter. However, he was forced to turn to more lucrative forms of illustration and joined his older brothers, Charles and Tom, who were already book illustrators. By 1900 he had become one of the country's leading book illustrators, receiving acclaim for his Art Nouveau inspired line drawings to accompany an edition of The Poems of Edgar Allan Poe. He received further recognition in 1902 for the children's book The Adventures of Uncle Lubin, which he wrote as well as illustrated.

(Published 9th Dec 2014) Read full article

Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift

"My name is Gulliver, Lemuel Gulliver. I was born in Nottinghamshire and was sent to Cambridge University when I was fourteen years old. Three years later I began training as a surgeon, first in London and afterwards in Leyden in the Netherlands. I made several voyages as a ship's surgeon, but grew tired of the sea and decided to set up as a doctor in Wapping, where I moved with my wife and children. However, business did not go well and I again took a post as a ship's surgeon."

Left: Illustration by Savile Lumley

So starts (a slightly abridged version of) the most intriguing and imaginative travel book that you will ever set eyes on! What travel book do you know that describes extraordinary voyages into lands so diverse that you can be a giant in one and a midget in the next? The book Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift, orTravels into Several Remote Nations of the World by Lemuel Gulliver as it was originally titled when published in 1726, is possibly the most readable of all the eighteenth-century prose classics.

(Published 9th Dec 2014) Read full article

The Growing Summer by Mary Noel Streatfeild

One of the delights of working in a bookshop is helping customers to find 'old friends', those books they remember from childhood. Since coming to work in Rose's Books I too have been reunited with old friends and have reread books of my childhood. One author I remember well is Noel Streatfeild so when a collection of her books came our way, it was a good excuse to become reacquainted with 'old friends'!

Noel Streatfeild was born on Christmas Eve in 1895 in Sussex where her father was curate. Her great grandmother was the prison reformer, Elizabeth Fry. She didn't particularly enjoy school and her father was asked to remove her from Hastings and St. Leonards College. During the first world war Noel worked in the kitchens at a hospital for wounded soldiers and, later, as a munitions worker at Woolwich Arsenal. After the war Noel entered the Academy of Dramatic Art and trained as an actress. Her career came to an end following a tour ofAustralia in 1929. While she was on this tour her father died and she was unable to get home in time for the funeral. Disillusioned with acting she chose to pursue a new career.

(Published 9th Dec 2014) Read full article

Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti

Goblin Market - a familiar title but a poem that I knew only from my interest in the books illustrated by Arthur Rackham, of which Goblin Market is one. Having decided to write an article featuring this book I thought perhaps I'd better read the poem in its entirety. And what a surprise awaited me!

Goblins - the very word conjures up images of fairy tales, mythical little creatures, magical happenings. Goblin Market, published in 1862 and the longest of Christina Rossetti's poems, has enjoyed a reputation as one of the finest of children's poems and indeed Christina herself insisted that it was simply a fairy tale. However, the sensuous language used in the lengthy descriptive passages does give a somewhat different impression. But more of that later...

(Published 8th Dec 2014) Read full article

The French Foreign Legion by Douglas Boyd

They say you're without honour or faith,but what more could they have asked?Did you not fulfil unto death the sworn duty with which you were tasked?

Legion Captain Borelli, to his Legionnaires who died at the siege of Thuyen Quang in 1885.

Established in 1831 by the French king Louis Philippe, The French Foreign Legion (or in French: Légion étrangère, L.E.) is a military service wing of the French army, unique because it was exclusively created for foreign nationals willing to serve in the French armed forces. The direct reason for this was that foreigners were forbidden to serve in the French Army after the 1830 July Revolution, so the foreign legion was created to allow the government a way around this restriction.

(Published 8th Dec 2014) Read full article

Flower Fairies by Cicely Mary Barker

Anybody who loves fairies will have no doubt heard of and enjoyed the series of flower fairies books written and illustrated by Cicely Mary Barker. Her images, being so lifelike yet so comforting, can't fail to touch your heart.

Cicely was born in 1895 in Croydon, London, and spent most of her life there. Because of ill health she was educated at home and, encouraged by a supportive family and assisted by membership of the Croydon Art Society, largely taught herself to draw and paint. She was only sixteen when she had her first work, A Set of Postcards , accepted for publication and from that time she devoted her career to painting.

(Published 8th Dec 2014) Read full article

Edmond Went Far Away by Martin Bax

A recently published book in comparison to many in our shop, 'Edmond Went Far Away' is a short tale of a young boy's Big Adventure to 'another land', far away from his home.

It was the pictures that drew me to the book initially - beautiful bright colour illustrations by well loved illustrator Michael Foreman.

Edmond is a young boy who lives on a farm, and is fortunate enough to call all the farmyard animals his friends. As he decides to go on his journey 'far away', first he has to say goodbye to all his friends on the way; the ducks, the pig, the Jersey cows, Ned the horse and so on. To each of them he says "I am going far away"; each animal replies in its own way; "Quack-away"; "Oink-away"; "Moo-wary Mooway"; "Neigh-away".

(Published 8th Dec 2014) Read full article

The Eagle

Life was different in the years immediately after World War II. Rationing was the norm, and you had to wait for everything. Although we had a daily newspaper, my brother and I were not allowed to have a regular subscription to a comic, such as ' Beano' or ' Dandy', and had to buy copies with our extremely limited pocket money, if we could not beg, borrow or....

Even so, there was a corner shop nearby by which sold old copies of comics, and it was there that I found I preferred to read titles like 'Adventure', 'Hotspur', 'Rover' and, my favourite, 'Wizard'.

So you can just imagine our amazement that we were actually allowed to subscribe to a new comic that hit the news stands in April 1950. As a comic it was perfect. We so looked forward to it that issue No. 6 was actually torn in half as my brother and I struggled to read it first. Although we saved each copy as it came, they eventually all disappeared, as such items do, which was a pity as they would be worth a small fortune today.

(Published 8th Dec 2014) Read full article

Victorian (and earlier) Duck Decoys

What is a Duck Decoy? I thought it was a wooden or plastic duck used to entice wildfowl so they can be shot - yes, that's what they are today, but in Victorian times they were something very different. The Duck Decoys that are the subject of Payne-Gallwey’s book were very large traps covering several acres and during a season from December to March they were capable of taking 5,000 or more birds!

The word Decoy derives from the Dutch 'endekooy' or 'Duck Cage' and this provides an excellent idea of how the Decoy worked. The early and simplest Decoys were tunnels or cages into which the ducks were attracted by food and then trapped by dropping a 'door' to close the entrance. By the end of the eighteenth century and in the early nineteenth century, probably the peak of Decoy usage, they were very much larger and sophisticated devices. Most owners at the time kept the details of their Decoys a closely guarded secret and, in some cases, went to great lengths to keep them hidden from the public by, for example, building a huge moat.

(Published 8th Dec 2014) Read full article

Diary of a Victorian Cat illustrated by Susan Herbert

This is a book I have long admired for the delightfully detailed full colour illustrations of anthropomorphic cats. So much so that I have finally bought my own copy and am now endeavoring to add the further eight works to my collection.

Much-loved for her innovative depictions of cats, Susan Herbert's witty subject matter has been an enormous publishing success and has gained her a reputation as the world's most instantly recognizable cat artist.

Born in 1945, Susan Herbert did not undergo any formal artistic training before embarking on a career as an artist. Her first job was working at the box office for the Royal Shakespeare Company and during this time, described by Susan Herbert as filled with 'hideous part-time jobs', she used her spare moments to draw and paint as often as she could.

(Published 8th Dec 2014) Read full article

David Gentleman's Paris

Paris is a special place for me as it was where I spent my honeymoon, Montmartre to be precise, in February. Paris is a beautiful city any time of the year, but for me Paris is a Winter’s Day.

Through his beautiful watercolours David Gentleman has managed to capture the real feel of Paris, its people and buildings, old and new.

He starts his ‘watercolour’ journey on the Seine, in particular the bridges of Paris, remarking: ‘Parisian life flows as easily across it as along it. It is well used and carefully looked after, and it is a source of great beauty.’

(Published 8th Dec 2014) Read full article

Dick King-Smith's Countryside Treasury

Dick King-Smith's Countryside Treasury has something for everyone.Dick King-Smith wrote a number of children's books, many featuring animals but probably the best known is The Sheep-Pig which was adapted into the 1995 film 'Babe'. For this treasury Dick King-Smith selected poetry and prose 'a combination of contemporary and traditional classics to produce a joyful celebration of the countryside past and present'.

The illustrations in this book are byChristian Birmingham and what delightful illustrations they are. He captures the essence of the stories and poems superbly and if I could include every illustration in this article I would because it is so difficult to select my favourite ones.

(Published 8th Dec 2014) Read full article

The Costume of Yorkshire Illustrated by a Series of Forty Engravings by George Walker

George Walker was the son of William Walker, a successful Leeds businessman. He was born in May 1781 at Killingbeck Hall, Seacroft near Leeds.

He was educated in York and then went on to become an artist, initially concentrating on local and rural life.

In 1814, he was commissioned by a local bookseller to produce a series of paintings known as The Costume of Yorkshire. Here we are given glimpses of the occupations, dress and life of the labouring classes in Yorkshire at the time. Just a few of the many featured occupations and ways of life include: 'The Dog Breaker', 'Lowkers', 'The Cranberry Girl', 'Rape Threshing', 'Sea Bathing', 'Whalebone Scrapers', 'Thirty-Third Regiment', 'Woman Spinning', 'Hawking', 'Factory Children' and 'Leech Finders'.

(Published 8th Dec 2014) Read full article

A Complete System of Modern Cookery and Domestic Economy by Alexander Murray M.D.

If you like to pick your own blackberries, make your own pickles or create a meal out of the most basic of ingredients you will love this book!

The ideology of the book is in parts very similar to that of modern cookeryauthors such as Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Nigel Slater. It's all about using plain and simple ingredients and making the most out of what you have - something that was natural to those of the 1800's because many of the exotic imports we have in the supermarkets today just weren't available. It's a way of thinking some of us have chosen to return to and some of us have been forced into by the current economic climate.

(Published 8th Dec 2014) Read full article

Comforting Thoughts & For Today by Mabel Lucie Attwell

I will admit that Mabel Lucie Attwell is my favourite illustrator of children's books. So, it is only natural that I feature another of her books for my 'featured book' article (previously I selected Bunty and the Boo-Boos). There are a couple of little books which we have in stock at the moment that are illustrated by Mabel Lucie Attwell and are in Valentine & Sons “Golden Thoughts” Booklets series. I am sure that these little books get 'lost' among the larger books in our cabinets. They are such delicate little things that we have to put them out of the way of sticky fingers, behind locked glass doors.

"Comforting Thoughts" contains the cutest colour illustrations featuring Attwell's delightful chubby children which accompany the most comforting little verses (written by Attwell) which I can only imagine are meant to (and indeed do) cheer up the depressed soul. For example:

(Published 8th Dec 2014) Read full article


'Once upon a time there was a little girl called Cinderella...'

The enchanting story of Cinderella is weaved through the childhood of generations of children regardless of culture or language. What young girl did not dream of wearing sparkling gowns and dancing with a prince who would instantly fall eternally in love with her and whisk her off to his castle? The ending is perfect... 'And so Cinderella and the prince lived happily ever after.''

Right: Illustration by Janet and Anne Grahame Johnstone in 'Dean's Gift Book of Fairy Tales'

The tale starts with a young girl whose mother has died. Her father remarries a woman who already has two young daughters. The daughters are bad tempered and jealous of Cinderella's beauty and kind nature. The ugly sisters make Cinderella do all the work in the house and finally she is made to sleep by the hearth, hence the name Cinderella (or Cinders). One day a royal invite comes from the palace for all the ladies of the kingdom to attend a grand ball. Poor Cinderella helps her sisters ready themselves for the ball, but then, when her sisters have left, she cries as if her heart would break. If only she could go to the ball!

(Published 8th Dec 2014) Read full article

Christmas Tales of Flanders

This time of year gives me the opportunity to combine two things that give me a great deal of pleasure: firstly Christmas is on the way and I have for many years collected Christmas Tree ornaments, decorating the tree, or should I say trees, with the delights gathered over what I must confess is becoming a lengthy life and is already occupying too many of my waking hours. And secondly, working as I do for Stella Books permits me to combine my love of the festive season with a delight in illustrated books.

I have chosen as an example a current stock item - Christmas Tales of Flanders. This profusely illustrated volume contains Fables and legendsfrom Flanders and Brabant, tales loved by children of all ages throughoutBelgium.

(Published 8th Dec 2014) Read full article

Cakes and Ale: the golden age of british feasting by Judy Spours

As anybody who knows me will testify, I enjoy my food, both eating and cooking. So it will be no surprise that I have chosen this as my featured book.

The Victorian age saw the rise of the middle classes and their desire for the refined things in life and there were a plethora of people to help them achieve this.

Celebrity chefs are by no means a modern phenomenon; Alexis Soyer, Isabella Beeton and Eliza Acton, all had books published on how to buy and cook food. They also gave advice to the emerging middle classes on household management. Entertaining at home was not just a matter of eating, it was equally important for business and social contacts as well.

(Published 4th Dec 2014) Read full article

Bunty and the boo-boos by Mabel Lucie Attwell

The Boo-Boos? What kind of weird characters does the name Boo-Boos conjure up in your mind? If I didn't know what the Boo-Boos were, I guess I would say that they were some kind of nasty monsters that come out from under the bed at night time! BUT I'd be wrong!

The Boo-Boos are the creation of Mabel Lucie Attwell. They are a cheery, chubby, not at all scary, group of 'do-gooding' elves or pixies, dressed in green suits and led by a crown-wearing king.

I have always been a fan of Attwell but until recently had not actually seen one of the Boo-Boo books in the flesh as they are quite scarce little books. So, while we had a copy in stock, I thought I would take a quick look at "Bunty and the Boo-Boos" (the first in the series of six books) and find out what it is all about. What a strange little story it is but I can imagine it makes a very good bedtime story for little ones.

(Published 4th Dec 2014) Read full article