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Stella & Rose's Books

Specialists in Rare & Collectable Books

Brambly Hedge by Jill Barklem

If you like mice you'll love Brambly Hedge! Brambly Hedge can be found on the other side of the stream across the field - maybe close to you. Here if you look carefully you may spot a wisp of smoke or see a flight of stairs going up into a tree trunk. For it is in this place that a community of mice has made their home.

The first Brambly Hedge books - Spring Story, Summer Story, Autumn Storyand Winter Story - appeared in 1980. They are written and illustrated by Jill Barklem. Their production followed five years research by Jill. Her love of natural history and interest in rural crafts shines through in the beautiful illustrations and fine details of the stories.

(Published 4th Dec 2014) Read full article


BOP - a cartoon character's punch? BOP - early modern jazz??

No, in fact it's Boy's Own Paper which after its founding in 1879 quickly became known as B.O.P. and has entered into English with the phrase "It's just like a story out of Boy's Own Paper" when incredible tales of heroism and derring-do are being discussed.

Left: The attractive cover of Volume 10 (1887-8)

The B.O.P was issued weekly by the Religious Tract Society to combat the "penny dreadfuls" of the day and was to be "pure and entertaining" reading with a steady stream of recommendations for curing impure thoughts and, much worse for boys, impure actions!

(Published 4th Dec 2014) Read full article

The Borrowers by Mary Norton

Have you ever put down an everyday object such as a safety pin then later, despite searching high and low, been unable to find it again? You have? Me too! Is it possible that you have a family of Borrowers living in your house? I'm sure I must have.

The Borrower stories by Mary Norton were first published in 1952 and have been popular ever since. The first book in the series, which won the Carnegie Medal in 1952, is called simply The Borrowers. This book introduces us to the Clock family, made up of father Pod, mother Homily and their daughter Arrietty. They live under the floorboards in a manor house and they enter their home through a gap in the floorboards under the clock in the hall, hence the name - Clock family. (Incidentally, the manor house was based on a house near Leighton Buzzard where Mary Norton lived for part of her childhood.) The family survive by 'borrowing' everyday objects to use as furniture (boxes), utensils (half a pair of nail scissors) and tools (a hatpin). Food and crumbs left by the humans provide their nourishment. Despite many warnings about talking to humans Arrietty speaks to a young boy sent to convalesce with his great aunt and the repercussions force the family to flee from the manor house.

(Published 4th Dec 2014) Read full article

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

'Black Beauty - the Autobiography of a Horse' by Anna Sewell was originally published in 1877 by Jarrolds and was the author's first and only book. It was written between 1871 and 1877 and, due to Anna's ill health, partly written with the help of her mother who transcribed her dictated words or pieces written on small slips of paper.

Greatly influenced by her love of horses due to her heavy use of horse-drawn carriages as a result of a lameness incurred during her teenage years, Anna wanted to bring the cruel treatment of the creatures into the public eye and encourage a more humane treatment of them. She accomplished this by writing the book in the first person from the viewpoint of the horse we know as 'Black Beauty', although throughout the book he also has a variety of different names from his various homes, including "Black Auster" and "Jack". Through Beauty's eyes and experiences, along with accounts from other horses that he meets on the way, Anna creates an empathy with the horses and the treatment that they have to endure. 

(Published 4th Dec 2014) Read full article

Birds of Arabia by Colonel R. Meinertzhagen

Colonel R. Meinertzhagen - Conman, fraudster, soldier, ornithologist?

Or all of the above? Choosing this book is really just an excuse to investigate this intriguing author. Let's start by looking at some aspects of the author's life:

Firstly, what could be more straightforward than the title and author - "Birds of Arabia by Colonel R. Meinertzhagen"? Well, nothing, except that in one sense Meinertzhagen probably didn't write it at all, in that he based it very heavily on the work of the American naturalist George Bates.

Secondly, Meinertzhagen was chairman of the British Ornithologist's Club and owned a large collection of bird specimens. Subsequently it was found that many of these had been stolen from the Natural History Museum and Meinertzhagen had written up false collection details. This is particularly ironic as the dedication in "Birds of Arabia" especially thanks the staff of the Bird Room at the Natural History Museum in London whose help was at all times given most cheerfully. Little did they realise they were also donating their specimens! 

(Published 4th Dec 2014) Read full article

Billy Bunter by Frank Richards

Billy Bunter is the most famous creation by the author Charles Hamilton, written under the pen name Frank Richards. Charles Hamilton used upwards of twenty pen names and is the most prolific author of boy's stories of all time. You will find him in the Guinness book of records and it is estimated that he wrote over 80,000,000 words or the equivalent of 1,000 average length novels. Born in Ealing, Middlesex, England on August 8, 1876, it is thought that he wrote his first story just nine years later, in 1885.

Billy Bunter was brought to fame as part of The Magnet, a boy's magazine which ran between 1908 and 1940 for a total of 1683 issues. Billy Bunter featured in well over a thousand of these magazines, with his part growing as Hamilton realized the comic potential of Billy Bunter.

(Published 4th Dec 2014) Read full article

Bill The Minder by W. Heath Robinson

When you say the name W. Heath Robinson to most people, if they know anything about him they will say he is a book illustrator, and then, most likely, will remember him for his humorous depiction of war machines during the First World War, but there is so much more to the man.

William Heath Robinson comes from a family of illustrators along with his brothers Thomas Heath Robinson and Charles Robinson. They all earned a living from their illustrations, taking after their father, Thomas Robinson, who worked for the Illustrated London News. However William did not initially intend to go into book illustration as his ambition was to become a landscape painter, but the need for an income soon made him choose book illustration as a career. He established himself very quickly and illustrated classic books including; The Arabian Nights, (1899); Tales From Shakespeare (1902);Twelfth Night (1908); Andersen's Fairy Tales (1913); A Midsummer Night's Dream (1914); The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley (1915); and Peacock Pie by Walter de la Mare (1916).

(Published 4th Dec 2014) Read full article

Autocourse - The World's Leading Grand Prix Annual

The Formula 1 season of 1994-95 may be remembered for any one of several reasons: the first world championship of Michael Schumacher, controversies surrounding 'technical irregularities', Jos Verstappen surviving a pit-lane inferno at Hockenheim, or the determination of Damon Hill to counter the seemingly unstoppable charge of Schumacher and the Benneton racing team. But it was the events of the weekend of April 30th / May 1st that was to dominate one of the most dramatic racing seasons for years.

Left: Cover of the 1994/95 annual.

Schumacher had won the opening two races of the season and was already looking to be a serious challenge to world champion Ayrton Senna. The third race meeting of the season, the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola, started badly on the Friday afternoon when Rubens Barrichello was incredibly lucky to escape with only superficial injuries after his car vaulted the kerb and slammed sideways into the tyre barrier (Right). Worse was to follow.

(Published 4th Dec 2014) Read full article

Arnold Palmer - A Personal Journey by Thomas Hauser

Golf is the only sport where you do not have to be a professional player to describe yourself as a 'golfer', all you seem to need is the desire to be able to strike the little ball without malice, and there you are, when asked, you can safely reply 'I am a golfer'.

There have been, and continue to be, many books written on the sport, those that help you to achieve a better standard of play, others that compile the humour associated with the game and some that supply an endless list of statistics, or detail the history of specific courses or players.

(Published 4th Dec 2014) Read full article

Ardizzone's English Fairy Tales

This collection of twelve fairy tales were particular favourites of Edward Ardizzone, who wanted to bring them together to share them with children, hoping that they would enjoy them also. The tales are taken from the collection of Joseph Jacobs, a folklorist who wanted children to read and enjoy English Fairy and Folk Tales as well as French and German tales by, for example, Charles Perrault and the Brothers Grimm. Joseph Jacobs' collection of tales included folk tales, fables, legends etc. as well as fairy tales. I would find it difficult to choose my favourite twelve out of such a vast collection.

(Published 4th Dec 2014) Read full article

The Arabian Nights

The mere mention of The Arabian Nights might conjure up images of genies magically appearing from brass lamps or magic carpets soaring across sunset skies.In true Arabian style, brilliant coloured silks and the scent of Eastern spices provide the backdrop to this superb collection of magical tales, which include both exotic romances and perilous adventures! Our heroes include names such as Aladdin, Sinbad and Ali Baba, known to many the world over.

But is this volume merely a collection of children's stories or does the book have an appeal to adults?

Left: Illustration from the version illustrated by George Soper.

Originally the book was entitled One Thousand Nights and a Night. The volume was a vast collection of about two hundred stories which included poetry, fairy tales, political satires, erotica, and bawdy anecdotes.

(Published 3rd Dec 2014) Read full article

An Historical Tour Through Monmouthshire by William Coxe

In fact the book, published in 1801, is a result of three tours by the author William Coxe. On the first, in 1798, he was accompanied bySir Richard Colt Hoare who provided some of the illustrations for the book and there were then two further tours on his own, in the spring and autumn of 1799.

William Coxe (1747 – 1828) was educated at Eton and ultimately became a vicar in Wiltshire. He wrote a number of biographiesincluding those of Sir Robert Walpole and the Duke of Marlborough, as well as travel books, covering amongst others, Switzerland,Russia and Poland. However, for those of us based in Wales, his most sought after and collectable book remains “An Historical Tour Through Monmouthshire”

(Published 3rd Dec 2014) Read full article

Andrew Lang's Fairy Books

Some books just look so appealing due to their bright bindings or covers and the Andrew Lang Fairy Books are no exception. There are 12 in the collection - all the colours of the rainbow and more! A set of first editions would look stunning with their decorative covers.

Andrew Lang was a Scottish poet and literary critic who is now probably best remembered for his collections of fairy and folk tales. English collections of traditional Fairy Tales were rare in the lateVictorian Age as many considered them too brutal and violent to be read to children. Lang had read the classic fairy tales during his childhood and thought they should be passed onto the next generation.

(Published 3rd Dec 2014) Read full article

Always Jolly by Lothar Meggendorfer

Lothar Meggendorfer was born in Germany in 1847. After completing his technical art studies he became a popular magazine illustrator. He spent many years on the staff of the German satirical magazine 'Fliegende Blatter' and also worked for Munchener Bilderbogen.

Meggendorfer's popularity today is based solely on his ingenious mechanical picture books for children which he began creating in the late 1880s. Many of his German titles were published in multiple editions. Many were also translated into English, French, Spanish, Italian, Bohemian, Hungarian, and Russian. He is considered the creator and chief innovator of moveable toy books - and deservedly so. His books are much sought after and demand a high price on the rare occasion when they turn up on the market in good working order.

(Published 3rd Dec 2014) Read full article

Air of Glory – A Wartime Scrapbook by Cecil Beaton

“Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary.” - Cecil Beaton

Sir Cecil Walter Hardy Beaton CBE, was a British fashion and portrait photographer, diarist, interior designer and an Academy Award-winning stage and costume designer for films and the theatre. Admitted to the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame in 1970, (founded by ‘fashionista’ Eleanor Lambert in 1940 as an attempt to boost the reputation of American fashion at the time), Beaton’s flamboyant personality and flair for style resulted in his being credited for more or less inventing the ‘Edwardian look’ with ‘My Fair Lady’ for which he designed both the sets and costumes. As David Bailey remarks:

(Published 3rd Dec 2014) Read full article

The Adventures of Rupert the Little Lost Bear

Who has not heard of Rupert Bear? Resplendent in red jersey and bright yellow check trousers, Rupert is as popular today as he ever was, both with youngsters discovering his adventures for the first time, as well as those of us who remember him fondly from our childhoods. Most of us are familiar with the Rupert annuals, the first of which was published in 1936, but Rupert was in fact created long before then. He made his first appearance in the Daily Express in 1920 making him 90 years old this year! (2010)

Rupert's creator was Mary Tourtel, born in 1874 into a very artistic family and married in her early 20's to Herbert Tourtel who worked in printing and publishing.

(Published 3rd Dec 2014) Read full article

Ancient Egyptian Works of Art by Arthur Weigall

The idea of a 'Curse of the Pharaohs' emerged following the death of George Edward Stanhope Molyneux Herbert, the fifth Earl of Carnarvon after excavation of perhaps the most famous of all ancient Egyptian treasures - the tomb of King Tutankhamun.

The general public were amazed at the unbelievable wealth reflected in the amount of solid gold funerary pieces that were entombed with the minor Pharaoh. This treasure had been buried, along with its owner Tutankhamun, for over 3000 years. His resting place had remained undisturbed until its discovery in November 1922 when Howard Carter and Carnarvon, his sponsor, excavated a step cut into the rock in the Valley of The Kings beneath some workmen's huts at the base of the tomb of Rameses VI. What they discovered was to be the monumental culmination of a number of years (and considerable investment on Carnarvon's part) searching for a tomb they weren't even at all sure existed! Is it surprising that the general public perhaps felt that it was wrong to disturb King Tut? Perhaps people felt that the excavation was a disrespectful act of violation and that the idea of the Curse of King Tut was a justified form of revenge on any invaders of his tomb.

(Published 3rd Dec 2014) Read full article

A Christmas Carol

I have endeavoured in this Ghostly little book to raise the Ghost of an Idea which shall not put my readers out of humour with themselves, with each other, with the season, or with me. May it haunt their house pleasantly, and no one wish to lay it. Their faithful Friend and Servant, C.D. December, 1843

A Christmas Carol , describing the redemption of the wretchedly miserly Ebenezer Scrooge, is the best known of Charles Dickens' works and has become a Christmas tradition loved by children and adults alike.

Left: Scrooge is visited by the ghost of Jacob Marley. Illustration by Arthur Rackham.

It is composed in five staves, of which the central three describe Scrooge's visitation by three Spirits - the Spirit of Christmas Past, the Spirit of Christmas Present, and the Spirit of Christmas Yet to Come. The remaining staves act as prologue and epilogue.

(Published 2nd Dec 2014) Read full article

A Child's Garden Of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson

Who has not heard of A Child's Garden of Verses? Probably very few... 

But how many would associate this delightful collection of poetry with the exciting and romantic adventure story Treasure Island, or the much darker and most famous study of the abysmal depths of personality The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde? All came from the pen and fertile imagination of the Scottish writer and poet Robert Louis Stevenson.

Stevenson was born in Edinburgh in 1850 into a family more famous for engineering than for literary prowess - his father, Thomas, invented the marine dynamometer, which measures the force of waves, and his grandfather, also a Robert, was Britain's greatest builder of lighthouses.

(Published 5th Nov 2014) Read full article

The Abbey Series The Abbey Girls in Town Elsie J. Oxenham

Rose's Books recently acquired a collection of books by Elsie J. Oxenhamwhich includes several of the hard to find titles. I find it exciting looking through a new collection and often glance through a few of the books, which is how I came to read The Abbey Girls in Town. Before coming to work here I knew nothing about Oxenham but I quickly learnt that she was the author of the very collectable Abbey series. Until recently I had not knowingly read any of her books. I say 'knowingly' as I think I read one of my mother's books but I can't remember the title or anything about it other than the girls in the book did lots of country dancing!

(Published 5th Nov 2014) Read full article