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Stella & Rose's Books

Specialists in Rare & Collectable Books

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

Orlando The Marmalade Cat - A Camping Holiday

Following her marriage in 1926 and the subsequent birth of her children,Kathleen Hale began to invent stories to relate to the children which were all about her marmalade cat, Orlando. In 1938 her first book of Orlando's adventures, Orlando the Marmalade Cat - A Camping Holiday, was published by Country Life and it became an immediate success. The story introduces the reader to Orlando and also to his family, wife Grace and the kittens Blanche, Pansy & Tinkle and is loosely based around Kathleen Hale's own family camping trips to Norfolk.

When Orlando approaches his 'Master' with a request to take the family on a camping trip his 'Master' is concerned. If he grants the holiday to Orlando and his family, the mice will have a field day but, despite his reluctance, he agrees to let them go. Orlando, Grace and the kittens happily pack up the car and head out for their first ever 'real' holiday. 

(Published 11th Dec 2014) Read full article

The New Naturalists

Four things that you might seek when purchasing a book:

- to read and learn - to read and enjoy - to look at and admire - to be rare, scarce and valuable

Look no further than the New Naturalist series of books.

Above: some of the stylised dustjackets designed by Clifford & Rosemary Ellis.

They were aimed at the “intelligent layman” and were factually and scientifically correct, unlike some of the earlier twentieth century Natural History books which were sometimes heavily anthropomorphic or overly simplistic. For the most part they were written and are written by authors whose writing, although technically correct, is also “readable”. A set of New Naturalists in their dust jackets is as beautiful to behold as a work of art with the early stylised jackets of the Ellises and the later ones of Gillmor. Many titles are now very scarce and highly sought after.

(Published 11th Dec 2014) Read full article


The treacherous Eddystone Rocks are situated 14 km off Rame Head in the South West of England and have always presented a terrifying hazard to shipping entering and leaving the major harbour of Plymouth in Devon. There have been four lighthouses built on the Eddystone, the first in 1698 and the current one in 1882; but it is John Smeaton's design and the innovative construction techniques that he used to build the third lighthouse that form the basis for all modern “rock” lighthouses.

John Smeaton (1724-1792) was a gifted civil engineer who designed bridgescanals and harbours as well as lighthouses. In order to build the Eddystone lighthouse (note Smeaton in his book refers to the Edystone) he pioneered the use of Hydraulic Lime, a mortar that will set under water. He also developed a technique to secure the granite blocks using dovetail joints and marble dowels. Indeed so strong were his construction techniques that when the Victorian engineers came to remove his tower they were forced to leave the base which still stands to this day!

(Published 10th Dec 2014) Read full article

Nature's Savage Cats - A Pop-Up Exploration

Which wild cat sprints four times faster than an Olympic champion?This wild cat can catch an entire flock of birds in one second – but what is its name?Which can eat as much as 31kg of meat in one night?The Romans prized a specific big cat and used them to pull chariots – but which one?Which big cat has been used for centuries as a symbol of strength and power?

These are just a few questions that are answered in 'Nature's Savage Cats – A Pop-up Exploration', a book which looks at some of the most successful predators in the animal kingdom.

(Published 10th Dec 2014) Read full article

The Natural History of Selborne by Gilbert White

How could the combination of a sleepy Hampshire village and a country vicar with no scientific training produce the best known general Natural History book of all time?

The book is written as a series of letters. The first nine letters are a fraud in that they were never posted and were written after the "real" letters, many of the "facts" are wrong and yet the book has never been out of print since its first publication in 1789. Indeed it has turned sleepy Selborne into a major tourist venue. So why has "The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne in the County of Southampton" been such an outstanding success?

(Published 10th Dec 2014) Read full article

The Mouldy by William Mayne, illustrated by Nicola Bayley

My husband and I collect illustrated children's books. Anything that takes our fancy really, but we do have a few books in our collection which are illustrated by Nicola Bayley. Nicola is perhaps best-known for her stunning illustrations of cats and indeed her particular favourite is 'The Patchwork Cat' by William Mayne. However, the book that caught my attention was another by William Mayne called 'The Mouldy'.

(Published 10th Dec 2014) Read full article

Mother Goose

"Old Mother Goose When she wanted to wander Would fly through the air On a very fine gander"

Thus begins the tale of Mother Goose and her son Jack who buys a goose which lays a golden egg. Jack sells the goose to a dishonest merchant, Mother Goose turns Jack into Harlequin and his ladyfriend into Columbine, The egg is thrown into the sea and a fish brings it back. The merchant threatens to kill the goose but Mother Goose catches it and climbing onto its back flies up to the moon!

Top left: Cover illustration by Blanche Fisher Wright

(Published 10th Dec 2014) Read full article

Movable Books An Illustrated History by Peter Haining

Ingenious, quirky, beautiful – some of the adjectives to describe the numerous pop-up and movable books available to our children (and adults too) today. It's difficult for us to imagine a time without them but four hundred years ago there were virtually no books for children at all, never mind thenovelty books that are so familiar to us now.

Peter Haining's wonderful and informative book begins with a brief history of children's books leading up to the mid-18th century when Robert Sayer, a inventive bookseller, produced The Harlequinade. This was the first printed item for young children which could be described as a movable book, having turn-up pages with interchangeable pictures.

(Published 10th Dec 2014) Read full article

Mineralogia Cornubiensis A Treatise On Minerals, Mines and Mining by William Pryce

Tin mining in Cornwall is believed to date from as early as 2150 BC and there is a written account from the first century BC (Diodorus Siculus). The demand for tin in this period had grown as tin together with copper produced Bronze. The Romans certainly used Cornish tin but Roman influence was very limited in West Cornwall so whether they actually mined it there or simply purchased it from local miners is open to debate.

Most tin in this period was produced from alluvial deposits and true lode mining did not commence until the Middle Ages. Up until the early eighteenth century tin was the only metal mined in Cornwall and the smelting of copper or brass making was probably unknown. That rapidly changed as huge copper deposits were found and copper mining became the largest mining operation in Cornwall and this continued until the end of the nineteenth century. Despite this fact Cornwall is best known for its tin mines. Cornish copper deposits were the largest in Europe and the then civilized world. Because of the coal needed to smelt copper, very little copper smelting as opposed to mining took place in Cornwall, instead the ore was shipped to Swansea for smelting.

(Published 10th Dec 2014) Read full article

Meeting Hill – BB's Fairy Book

As children, my sister and I spent hours playing in the small steep sided valley, or dingle as we always called it, alongside our house. Our dingle consisted of a few small wooded areas, an old cider apple orchard and a meandering stream. We would spend hours picking wild flowers, playing hide and seek, making dens out of fern, paddling in the stream, making stepping stones across it and catching bullyheads in it. Luckily we very rarely saw anyone in our dingle as I'm not sure how we would have coped with the encounters experienced by the two children in this book.

Peter and Johanna are the two children and they were young friends of Denys Watkins-Pitchford who often wrote and illustrated using the pseudonym BB. This book contains some well-known folk and fairy tales told within a story about the adventures of Peter and Johanna. The story begins with the author and the children walking down to the Glydebrook stream near the children's home to look for a kingfisher's nest. Luckily for them the young birds had just left their nest and were sat in a row on a branch awaiting their mother's return with food. After watching the kingfishers for a while they all enjoyed themselves messing about by the stream and relaxing in the warm evening air. Peter asked BB to tell them part of the story he had written some years earlier which was the Little Grey Men, he obliged and this becomes the first story within the story.

(Published 10th Dec 2014) Read full article

Maskelyne's Book of Magic by Jasper Maskelyne and Arthur Groom

Being married to someone who enjoys magic and conjuring in their spare time (and who hopes to one day transform this hobby into a career) can, at times, be difficult! We have a house full of a wide array of texts ranging from basic children's conjuring books to complex plans detailing the design and construction of large-scale illusions, and no space to store them! Every surface houses piles of this 'essential' reading matter but a vital tome missing from my husband's already considerable collection comes in the form ofMaskelyne's Book Of Magic, first published in 1936 by George G. Harrap and Co Ltd.

Providing a charming insight into the world of early twentieth century stage magic and outlining various performance techniques ranging from sleight of hand with coins, cards and rope to more elaborate and thought-provoking illusions involving mind-reading techniques, Maskelyne's Book Of Magic provides a comprehensive guide to starting out as a stage magician. Although famous in the 1930s for his ambitious stage shows and membership of the Magic Circle, the most noted work of Jasper Maskelyne - one of an already long family line of established stage magicians - was that undertaken for British Military Intelligence during the Second World War.

(Published 10th Dec 2014) Read full article

The Mammals of Great Britain and Ireland by J.G. Millais

These three volumes are truly momentous in many ways. For starters, just seeing them on the shelf makes you wonder what subject could justify such large tomes, being three inches thick, fourteen inches high and thirteen inches wide as well as weighing over five kilograms each. Well, if you are strong enough to lift the books and open them up, beneath the plain and rather dull covers lie some of the most beautiful and informative illustrations on mammals I have ever seen.

Considering the timing of publication of this book, first published in 1904, much had been discovered of the anatomy of many mammals by the "Desk Zoologist without Experience" as the author puts it. But there was a lack of knowledge in another two main areas which the author hoped to put right with this publication. These were firstly "Good pictures both in colour and black and white, drawn from life" and secondly "exact information on the distribution and the life history of the various species."

(Published 10th Dec 2014) Read full article

The Making of the Parson Jack Russell Terrier

One of today's most popular dog breeds is the Parson Jack Russell Terrier (or Jack Russell Terrier) which originated with Parson Jack Russell who died in 1883 at the age of 88. Practically everyone you meet in the street has known one, seen a picture of one or even owned one at some time. Our featured book for this month tells us the whole story of its origins, its uses, its development and rapid rise in popularity.

The authors of this book, Jean and Frank Jackson, are known internationally as dog breeders of distinction and completion of this book followed the centenary of Parson Jack Russell's death and coincided with new attempts to persuade the Kennel Club to recognize the Parson Jack Russell Terrier as a separate breed. Today, the Parson Russell Terrier is a recognized breed standard.

(Published 10th Dec 2014) Read full article

Malory Towers by Enid Blyton

One of the joys of working in Rose's Books is rediscovering books of my childhood! Our customers obviously share this joy if the comments ("A trip down memory lane" or "I had that book") are anything to go by! One such rediscovery I shared with Katie my 13 year old daughter - The Malory Towers series by Enid Blyton. We avidly read the whole series together and would indulge in long conversations about the characters, plot and the language ('the hols', 'my people' 'school cert') to the frustration of the rest of the family who had no idea what we were talking about!

Written between 1946 and 1951, the Malory Towers of the title is a boarding school situated on the coast in Cornwall. It is made up of four towers or houses - North, South, East and West. The action mainly takes place in North Tower. The six books in the series follow the school career of Darrell Rivers from her first days (First Term at Malory Towers) to when she is about to leave to go to University (Last Term at Malory Towers).

(Published 10th Dec 2014) Read full article