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Stella & Rose's Books

Specialists in Rare & Collectable Books

Up River - The Song of the Esk

Up River - The Song of the Esk written and illustrated by Darren Woodhead

This book caught my eye on the shelf because on front and back of the dustwrapper are beautiful watercolour paintings, on the front a singing male blackcap and on the back a winter woodland scene.

Front Cover / Back Cover  

On reading the introduction what impressed me most was, firstly, the fact that the artist never uses white paint, instead he allows the white paper to shine through his paintings. To me that seems like painting in the negative – working all around the aspects of the picture that are to remain white. Secondly, all these pieces of artwork were completed directly from life while the artist was observing the subject in its natural environment. As many artists paint from photographs I found this to be exceptionally intriguing – how was this achieved when live subjects actually move?

(Published 8th Sep 2022) Read full article

The Observer’s Book of British Birds

The Observer’s Book of British Birds by S. Vere Benson

Stephana Vere Benson.  It seems people are not sure if Stephana was her name as she never published it as such on the title page.  The Misses Benson began the Bird-Lovers’ League firstly amongst their friends and neighbours and subsequently it grew to more than thirty thousand members worldwide over the next fourteen years.

This book was first published in 1937 and is the first of the Observer’s Series.  There are at least 15 different dust wrapper variations for the book, published by Frederick Warne and Co. Ltd. Some with only minor changes. The book was revised in 1952, 1956, 1960, 1965 and 1972. The book contains one bird per page, making it an excellent reference guide.

(Published 2nd Aug 2022) Read full article

I Was a Rat!

I was a rat! (or The Scarlet Slippers) by Philip Pullman

Are you at all familiar with the story of Cinderella?

And do you, by chance, remember the part of that tale where Cinderella’s fairy godmother turns up and helps her fulfil her wish to go the ball and meet Prince Charming?

Six white mice turned into horses to pull the carriage which had previously been a pumpkin. The old guard dog was magically changed into the carriage driver and two rats were transformed into page boys, ready to escort Cinderella to her destiny.

(Published 12th Jul 2022) Read full article

GT40 – An Individual History and Race Record

GT40 – An Individual History and Race Record

The Ford GT40 was one of the iconic cars I lusted after while growing up. I remember it featuring on the BBC’s Top Gear, driven by Noel Edmonds, as well as hearing about its legendary victory at Le Mans.

Front Cover / Page 38 - Larger 427 Inch Engine  

My interest in the GT40 was revived when I recently watched ‘Le Mans ‘66’ (entitled ‘Ford vs Ferrari’ in some countries). The film charts the rivalry between Ford and Ferrari in endurance racing – culminating in Ford’s victory in the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans race.

(Published 8th Jun 2022) Read full article

Bingo and Babs by Alan Wright

Bingo and Babs by Alan Wright

I picked this book up while tidying in the shop and was captivated by its charm and cheekiness. It is a simple story but delightfully told. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and looking at the colourful illustrations which enhance it and bring the story to life.  It is one of many such beautiful books we have in stock, and it also reminded me of all my favourite books when I was just a few years younger.

Bingo and Babs is a story about a dog, Bingo, who doesn’t like sharing his mistress, Peggy, with the horrid smiling thing she calls Babs.

(Published 3rd May 2022) Read full article

The Herb-Garden By Frances A Bardswell

The Herb-Garden by Frances A Bardswell Published by A & C Black

I was instantly intrigued when I spotted this little book. It isn’t very often that I see a gardening book dedicated solely to the cultivation of herbs. My interest in this subject started when I bought my own house and garden a few years ago. I knew that I wanted lavender bushes for their fragrance and attraction to bees, but I hadn’t really given any thought to what else. I then found myself in garden centres, sniffing various herb plants to find out what smelled nice and bringing them home to plant all together in a small section of my garden. Maybe this book would have helped me plan it all out correctly and tell me which plants should go next to which.

(Published 5th Apr 2022) Read full article

Erté at Ninety-Five - The Complete New Graphics

Erté at Ninety-Five - The Complete New Graphics

Erté at Ninety-Five, published in 1987, contains the graphics the artist has created between 1982 and 1987 using serigraph or silk screen printing. The introduction to the book is by Erté himself, he talks about his childhood, his works and working practices. If you love design, I am sure you will love this book.

Front Cover / Title Page  

“Erté’s creative demands on the print medium have required the development of new techniques in serigraph printing and other graphic methods, such as hot-stamping of metallic foils and embossing.”

(Published 15th Mar 2022) Read full article

The Bird Paintings of Henry Jones

The Bird Paintings of Henry Jones (text by Bruce Campbell)

Henry Jones? Bird Paintings? Being a lover of birds and an admirer of the works of the great bird artists such as Audubon, Thorburn and Gould,  I was immediately intrigued when I saw the title of this book. Who was Henry Jones? Why had I not heard of him before? The answer lay in Bruce Campbell’s introduction to the book.

Henry Jones was and still is a mysterious figure. According to Mr. Campbell, much of what we know about him is found in an unsigned obituary of a mere 200 words in Ibis, the journal of the British Ornithologists’ Union. He was born in 1838 near Folkestone and joined the army at the age of 22. He progressed through the ranks, becoming Captain at age 38 and finally retiring with the rank of Major, having served over 15 years in India and Cyprus.

(Published 9th Feb 2022) Read full article

Uncle's Animal Book by G.E. Studdy

Uncle's Animal Book by G.E. Studdy

“Specially drawn and written for you”.

I wonder how many people will recognise the author/artist of this book?  Perhaps you are a fan of Bonzo the dog, very popular in the 1920s?

This book was written and illustrated by the author/artist of the Bonzo books, George Studdy.  Studdy was born in 1878 at the family home in Devonport, Devon, UK. In his boyhood George would join his father in outdoor activities such as hunting and shooting. He later attended Heatherley’s Art School in London and was soon sharing a studio with friends from art school, working hard to acquire sufficient material to fill a portfolio. Eventually “The Studdy Dog” was discovered and appeared for the first time in November 1921.  A year later the little dog (which by then had become the Nation’s pet) was named Bonzo.

(Published 11th Jan 2022) Read full article

Edward Lear’s Complete Nonsense published by Folio Society

We love a Folio Society publication here! I have chosen Complete Nonsense by Edward Lear as my featured book this month. I am sure the older generation are very familiar with his works. I’m not too sure about the younger generation… perhaps now is their chance to familiarise themselves?

This book comprises of 5 of Edward Lear’s publications combined into one volume. The books are:

A Book of Nonsense (originally published in 1846) Nonsense Songs, Stories, Botany and Alphabets (1871) More Nonsense Pictures, Rhymes, Botany, etc (1872) Laughable Lyrics: A Fourth Book of Nonsense Poems, Songs, Botany, Music, etc. (1877) and Nonsense Songs and Stories (1895)

Edward Lear is probably best known for his nonsensical limericks which have no point whatsoever except, maybe, to make us laugh.

(Published 7th Dec 2021) Read full article

Big Animal Rag Book

Big Animal Rag Book Illustrated by A.E. Kennedy

Stella and Rose’s copy of this rag book is dated circa 1939, number 344 and is beautifully illustrated by A.E. Kennedy with colour pictures of animals that are still bright after all these years.  Albert Ernest Kennedy was born in 1883 in Leyton, London and died at the age of eighty.  He was the elder brother of the notable flower painter Cecil Kennedy.

Rag books were patented by Dean’s Rag Book Company in 1903 by Henry Samuel Dean with the trademark logo designed by Stanley Berkley of a bulldog and terrier fighting over a rag book “quite indestructible, washable & hygienic”.  Their catchy advertising phase was for “those who wear their food and eat their clothes”. 

(Published 16th Nov 2021) Read full article

The Wind In The Willows By Kenneth Grahame Illustrated by Charles van Sandwyk

The Wind In The Willows By Kenneth Grahame Illustrated by Charles van Sandwyk published by the Folio Society

Several articles about The Wind in The Willows have been written by our staff over the years but this book demands yet another! It is the Centenary Edition published by the Folio Society in 2008 to mark the 100th anniversary of the publication of this classic tale. Limited to 1000 copies this is truly a collector’s item.

(Published 12th Oct 2021) Read full article

Cassell’s Wild Flowers of Britain and Northern Europe

Cassell’s Wild Flowers of Britain and Northern Europe Illustrated by Marjorie Blamey

“I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine:There sleeps Titania sometime of the night,Lull’d in these flowers with dances and delight;And there the snake throws her enamell’d skin,Weed wide enough to wrap a fairy in:………..”

This passage from Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream evokes the magic that we feel when we see wild flowers growing and thriving in our countryside. The names of the flowers are part of our shared memories.  Many of the flowers mentioned above are in this month’s featured book – Woodbine (type of honeysuckle), Eglantine (briar rose), Violet and Wild Thyme. They can delight now just as they clearly moved Shakespeare to create his fairy bower with them.

(Published 9th Sep 2021) Read full article

Goodwood Revival: The First Ten Years

Goodwood Revival: The First Ten Years by Doug Nye

As a self-confessed petrol-head, I love all things with four wheels and an engine – especially when raced! However, I note in recent years that my interest in more modern vehicles has waned, and I even find myself showing little interest in watching Formula 1 races – something I used to love. There are probably many reasons for that, and such a discussion is well outside the scope of this article. However, it’s made me realise that I find much more enjoyment in watching and, when possible, tinkering with classic cars rather than modern.

(Published 10th Aug 2021) Read full article

Sugar-Plums and Sherbet – The Prehistory of Sweets

Sugar-Plums and Sherbet – The Prehistory of Sweets by Laura Mason

Sweets. We all like sweets and ate them as children. I remember it was a special treat to go to the shops to buy some sweets and then having to choose from the rows of jars. It was not easy! Sherbet was my favourite, but I don’t seem to be able to find it anymore. That is part of the history of sweets in that they have changed and been reinvented over the years. The term sweets to me means boiled sweets such as humbugs, barley sugar, seaside rock and jelly types such as jellybeans as well as marshmallows. It seems though that we use the term to include just about anything sweet such as chocolate, fudge, liquorice, puddings and desserts. Chocolate only became a competitor to sugar confectionary after about 1850. The confusion arises where its uses were overlapping: a medicine, preserving agent and spice. Do you know how they get the letters into seaside Rock? How they twisted barley sugar?  The difference between fudge and tablet?  

(Published 13th Jul 2021) Read full article

World Tree Story – History and Legends of the World’s Ancient Trees By Julian Hight

World Tree Story – History and Legends of the World’s Ancient Trees by Julian Hight

This book caught my eye as I am in the process of growing an oak tree in my garden. Last September/October I came across an initiative from BBC Radio Gloucestershire called ‘Ourboretum’ whereby you grow an Oak, Hazelnut or Beech tree until it is a small sapling and then they will arrange for it to be replanted. It is too late to join the scheme now as the seeds had to be collected last October and planted then. My sapling is now approximately 4cm high and my husband and I are incredibly proud!

(Published 2nd Jun 2021) Read full article

Peter Pan In Scarlet by Geraldine McCaughrean

Peter Pan In Scarlet by Geraldine McCaughrean

Sequel(s) – Definition: Subsequent development or the next instalment as of a speech or story; a continuation of a much-loved story and its characters,

How do you feel about sequels when it comes to books?  There are many sequels (and prequels) with authors devoting their careers to sharing stories that interweave and continue the tales around certain characters and places of their creation. Perhaps many of these would be called a 'series' of books, as there can be more than 3 or 4 stories in the set. Some of us love these, but others perhaps prefer to use their own imagination for any further adventures - after all, how can you do better than the original? But what about a sequel to a story that was first written around 100 years previously?

(Published 11th May 2021) Read full article

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

First published in the US in 1969 by World Publishing Company the British edition was published the following year in 1970 by Hamish Hamilton.  The book has proved enormously popular with children ever since and has recently enjoyed a huge comeback with popular merchandise being produced to sell alongside the book (toys, children’s food utensils, bedding, bookends, photo frames etc etc).

It is a fantastic book full of vivid colour illustrations and simple text.  Watch as the caterpillar crawls through the book munching all the delicious food and finally the ultimate metamorphosis from 'hungry caterpillar' to 'beautiful butterfly’.

(Published 6th Apr 2021) Read full article

Picturesque Representations of the Dress and Manners of the English

Picturesque Representations of the Dress and Manners of the English

Front and Spine; Plate VII: Dustman

This is a wonderful book, depicting fifty different social types of the 1800s. From The Sovereign to a Farmer’s Boy; a Judge to a Gipsy (spelt Gipsey in this antiquarian tome). Full of glorious hand-coloured aquatint plates and a facing page of accompanying textual history, it depicts a huge range of social types and customs.

(Published 2nd Mar 2021) Read full article

Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam illustrated by Edmund Dulac

Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam illustrated by Edmund Dulac

The Moving Finger…….

As a child I had an illustrated copy of Arabian Nights.  I was fascinated by those pictures and stories.  It conjured up an exotic world that seemed magical and so far removed from my own.  That is why I am drawn to this copy of “The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam”.  It is beautifully illustrated by Edmund Dulac and seems once again to transport me to ancient Persia and to the minarets and medinas, to the souks and the desert oases where people could sit under a tree and eat figs and fruit they had picked there.   

(Published 9th Feb 2021) Read full article