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Stella & Rose's Books

Specialists in Rare & collectable books

A. & C. Black's 20/- Colour Books

What links Egyptian Birds, Bonnie Scotland, Children and War?

The answer is that they are among the ninety-two 20/- (20 shillings) series of Colour Books published by A. & C. Black between 1901 and 1921. The Edwardian period was, perhaps, the peak time for book illustrations as, although photography was well established, the black and white images could not match the brilliance of Arthur Rackham and Edmund Dulac and their contemporaries for colour illustrations. The A. & C. Black's 20/- series used water-colour artists and was the first to use the new "three colour" process for colour plates. The books were lavish in their use of colour illustrations with most volumes having 70 or more colour plates.

Tales of Mystery & Imagination by Edgar Allan Poe

'Edgar Allan Poe is dead. He died in Baltimore the day before yesterday. This announcement will startle many, but few will be grieved by it.'

So begins the extraordinary obituary that appeared in the New York Tribune following the death of the pioneer American author and critic in 1849. Signed by “Ludwig”, the writer of this obituary was soon identified as Rufus Wilmot Griswold, an editor and critic that had borne a grudge against Poe since the early 1840s. But Griswold did not stop at the obituary: he arranged for himself to become Poe's literary executor, and set out to destroy the author's reputation in a breathtaking series of forgeries and revisions to Poe's writings. Although denounced by those who knew Poe, Griswold's biography (the only one available) was accepted by much of the general public, who no doubt were titillated by the thought of reading the words of an 'evil' man.

The Queen Who Came to Tea by Helen Bradley

It was the illustrations that first drew me to Helen Bradley’s books. There is such detail in them that they almost tell the story without the need for words. Helen Bradley depicts ‘how things were’ in the 1900’s. She began to paint when her grandchildren asked what life was like when she was a child. Her paintings certainly bring to life the Edwardian era of her childhood. So if you, like me, like to read history in story books this is one for you!

Helen Bradley was born in November 1900 at 58 High Street, Lees near Oldham. This had been a rural area but the cotton mills had spread out from Oldham and instead of fields were rows of back-to-back houses, some of them built by Helen’s grandfathers.

The Essential Cat by Thomas Wester

The author, Thomas Wester, is a Swedish photographer with a splendid love ofcats. Cats have been his subject of choice for over twenty years. He started his photography at the end of the 1960's and five years later he acquired his first cat. His love and interest in cats escalated from then on. Wester was encouraged in his work by friends and colleagues and many of his pictures were published in magazines and newspapers. When he found that more people were writing to him about his cat photographs than any of his other pictures, he started to think about publishing a book of photographs of cats. 

In putting together this book, his aim was to draw away from the common trend of photographing 'cuddly kittens in full colour with silk bows, sitting on turquoise paper', similar to those seen in today's coffee table books. He wanted to take photographs of cats in their natural surroundings, in natural poses, simply going about their everyday life.