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Stella & Rose's Books

Specialists in Rare & collectable books

Angela Brazil

Angela Brazil was born in Lancashire on the 30th of November 1868 to parents Clarence Brazil and Angelica McKinnel and was the youngest of their four children.  The family moved around the Lancashire area for Clarence Brazil's work as a mill manager and then into the Manchester area. In later years, after her father's death, they moved to the Conwy Valley in Wales.  In 1911, Brazil finally relocated and settled in Coventry, keeping house for her brother and later being joined by her sister.

Angela Brazil (Wikipedia) / A Terrible Tomboy  

It is said that Angela's mother, Angelica had a large impact and influence in her young life.  In a break with the tradition of the Victorian era in which Angela and her sister Amy grew up, their mother was very involved in their upbringing and encouraged their interest in things such as music and literature.   This fostered a love which would stay with Angela for life, as it is known that she was widely read and was a collector of early children's fiction, as well as an author in her own right.

(Published 11th May 2022) Read full article

My New Garden

You may remember my previous article from last year about my experience of moving house?

Well… this year I thought I would write about my new garden.

I moved to Hay-on-Wye in February 1994 and for 27 years we only had a balcony with our maisonette (overlooking my neighbours beautiful garden I will add) so I never had a chance to enjoy a garden myself, until last year when we moved into our new house in Chepstow. 

Daffodils / Unknown Shoots

I must admit that I am very excited about all the green shoots that have been appearing in recent weeks… I don’t know what they are, so it is very exciting watching them grow.  At the time of writing this article (mid-February) we already have snowdrops, crocuses and daffodils for sure. At the end of the season last year, we had a very good covering of cyclamen, and they are currently looking very healthy, so we are looking forward to another splash of colour from those later on in the year.

(Published 23rd Mar 2022) Read full article

A&C Black Colour Books

Adam & Charles Black publishing house was founded in Edinburgh, Scotland shortly after Adam (the ‘A’ in A&C Black) Black’s 23rd birthday in 1807, when he opened his own bookshop. Many booksellers in Edinburgh at the time were also publishers. Adam’s nephew, Charles (the ‘C’ in A&C Black), joined the business in 1834 until his death in 1854. In 1889, the business was moved from Edinburgh to Soho, London. In 2000, A&C Black was purchased and, at the time of writing, is still owned by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.

For us, as booksellers, when someone offers us A&C Black Colour Books, we spend a lot of time checking that all the colour plates are present as it is these that give the books their value and makes them collectable. Sadly, it is common for the plates to become detached and lost from the book as the glue dries out over the years.

(Published 22nd Mar 2022) Read full article

M. Pardoe

M. Pardoe or Margot Mary Pardoe was born in August 1902 in London and was the only child to a well-off family, her father being a surgeon.

She was educated at a boarding school in Hertfordshire until she was 17.  It is said that she used only her initial M. instead of her full name, as she was teased during her younger years about how her name rhymed!  Although perhaps her publisher thought that using an initial only would make the author more appealing to a wider audience, a tactic that has worked well for some.

M. Pardoe (Photo from Book & Magazine Collector 121) /  The Far Island  

The family spent summers on the French Riviera and Pardoe lived with a family in Paris after her schooling, where she trained to be an opera singer.  During her life, her family moved around, living in London, Aberdeenshire and finally moving to Hampshire.  Pardoe would remember areas where she had lived and holidayed and use them as a base for some of the settings in her books.

(Published 1st Mar 2022) Read full article

The Kingdom of Norway

The Kingdom of Norway - a land of tolerance, respect and equality

Norway is part of Scandinavia, and its capital Oslo is on the same Latitude as the Orkney Isles.  The king of Norway is Harald V with his queen Sonja. The northern portion is mostly above the Arctic Circle with the western and eastern areas being divided by mountain ranges called Lang Mountains.  The fourth region is a narrow coastal land with many islands and narrow, steep fjords.

The international geological definition of a fjord is “a long, narrow inlet with steep sides or cliffs, created by a glacier”.  The name fjord relates to the ancient Viking phrase “where you travel across”. There are more than 1,000 fjords, some of which are famous with many tourists visiting Norway to see them.

(Published 26th Jan 2022) Read full article

The Moon

What is the orbit of the moon? Why does it appear in a different place every night when the skies are clear? Why can you see the moon during the day?

These are questions I have often asked and although I think I know the answer I decided to find out.

As always, what started out as a fairly simple question turned into a complicated one!

The giant-impact theory is the most widely accepted theory on how the moon was formed about 4.5 billion years ago. It proposes that the moon formed during a collision between the Earth and another small planet, about the size of Mars. The resultant collision ejected a lot of debris into Earth’s orbit which subsequently coalesced into the moon.

(Published 4th Jan 2022) Read full article

Trees

Trees – perhaps we take them for granted as they are always there. One of the first things that we learn in early childhood may be what a tree looks like as we incorporate them into our first works of art.  But do we always stop and think just how vital these trees are to life on our planet?  

It is said that forests and trees are the lungs of the earth and, when you think about it, how true that is. Trees absorb the carbon dioxide that we breathe out and in turn release oxygen that animals and humans need to breathe in.  It's a natural recycling process that is beneficial for all living things.

(Published 23rd Nov 2021) Read full article

The Incompleat Angler

“Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after” -

Henry David Thoreau

Fishing is, pun intended, a ‘catch-all’ word. It encompasses everything, from the pursuit of whitefish in the icy northern waters off the coast of Svalbard, to the poetic majesty of a brown trout rising to take a hand-tied fly in the summer sunlight on a Hampshire chalk stream. As someone once observed, there are two sorts of fisherman; those who fish for sport and those who fish for fish.

Fishing for fish, in the sense of catching food, is one of the oldest human activities, certainly pre-dating agriculture by tens of thousands of years, if we allow that collecting shellfish falls within this. Many years ago I read a fascinating book by Mark Kurlansky that looks at cod fishing and the impact the humble cod had on history. It is also a paean to the history of the Basque people, the first to develop an international fishing industry that played a huge role in the development of medieval Europe and whose pre-Columbus voyages to North America were made possible, partly by bacalhau (dried and salted codfish), the first dependable and non-perishable food stock.

(Published 27th Oct 2021) Read full article

My Experience of Moving House

It began in March 2018.  Since the death of my stepfather in March 2017 my husband and I had numerous conversations about selling our shop premises at Rose’s Books in Hay-on-Wye along with our flat above, not only to simplify our life but also to be close to family in Chepstow.  We were warned not to act too quickly after the death of a loved one so waited a full year before making a final decision. After consulting with my business partners in March 2018, it was decided that we would go ahead and put the property on the market.

Rose's Books / Packing the Books  

We were so excited to have several viewings immediately and within a couple of months an offer was made which we accepted.  Being a shop with full-time and part-time staff members we thought that it was only fair that the staff were informed of the decision and they were immediately given notice.  The two longest running staff members were given 11 weeks’ notice and their last working day was in September 2018. We arranged to have the shop closed and the books moved down to the Tintern shop, Stella Books, by mid-September.

(Published 1st Oct 2021) Read full article

A Day in the Life of a Stella & Rose’s Books Partner

What, you may wonder, do you do all day???

Quite a lot as it happens!

Firstly, most importantly, I walk my dog on the way to work. Onyx is my Hearing Dog, as mentioned in previous articles, and requires her daily constitutional come rain or shine. Sometimes I arrive at the office in a bedraggled state and Onyx in an even worse state if the weather has not been kind! Fortunately, I am out of the public eye (most of the time!) tucked away in the office upstairs.

On arriving at the office at the unearthly (to me) hour of 8.30am, I generally have half an hour before the rest of the troops arrive at 9am. This time is used very wisely to make my first cup of coffee of the day. Whilst the kettle is boiling, I turn on my PC and log in to my email which is the element that is going to dictate how my day goes… what is in store for me today?

(Published 31st Aug 2021) Read full article

Training Your Human

This month our theme is How To Train Your Human. This is taken from a book written by well-known author Sammy Vallhund to help all dogs with training their humans. Sammy is now 13 years old and this was written when he was a youngster but well-practised in all aspects of training humans and the principles still apply today.  

Statutory warning.

To comply with the law regarding books on training humans this section is to remind all dogs and especially Vallhunds that it is essential to ensure that humans continue to believe that they are in charge of Vallhunds. Our forebears have spent thousands of years conditioning humans to believe this and it is of the utmost importance that we, and our descendants, continue this deception. So without further delay – How to Train Your Human…

(Published 29th Jul 2021) Read full article

For the Love of Water

Water is so precious to all humans and the myriad life forms we share this blue planet with.  In researching this article, I have found many interesting facts.

Cenotes in Mexico (https://www.journeymexico.com) / Kariba Dam (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kariba_Dam)  

A qanat is an ancient tunnel system built in Iran and Iraq to transport water from a reliable source of groundwater reservoirs to areas requiring irrigation.  Being underground they are naturally resistant to water loss through evaporation or natural disasters such as earthquakes.

(Published 30th Jun 2021) Read full article

Napoleon

One of the songs we were taught at primary school was “Boney was a warrior”  the lyrics of which taught me very little about Napoleon and left me fairly unmoved by the last verse which finished with “Boney broke his heart and died”.  What I have learned over the years has been from the British perspective and there are several myths and half truths that are passed on, just as with many historical figures.   

Napoleon & Josephine - A Love Story by Theo Aronson  

After a crushing defeat at Waterloo Napoleon abdicated and the British sent him in exile to St Helena – one of the remotest places on Earth where they almost certainly thought he would be forgotten. They were wrong.  He died on the island at age 51 and a mere nineteen years after his death the French people brought his body back to Paris where he was given a magnificent funeral.  A reported million people lined the route of the cortege which passed under the Arc de Triomphe and into the Royal Chapel of Les Invalides.  His tomb is a huge sarcophagus which contains six coffins made from iron, lead, beech, oak and ebony.  This is not the ending the song of my childhood suggests – far from it.

(Published 25th May 2021) Read full article

The Wye Valley Greenway

Being a keen cyclist – and having recently moved to Chepstow – I was excited to hear about the new Wye Valley Greenway. It opened on the 1st April 2021 and having walked it a couple of times I thought I’d share a little information about it!

The cycle way follows the southern route of the Wye Valley Railway from Chepstow, starting at Sedbury, through to Tintern. Adam wrote a fascinating article on the Wye Valley Railway back in 2014. The Wye Valley Railway opened to passengers and goods trains on the 1st of November 1876, connecting Chepstow and Monmouth (along with a branch line to the Tintern Wireworks). The line consisted of two tunnels, Tidenham and Tintern, as well as four river crossings (not including the branch line).

(Published 4th May 2021) Read full article

Adrenaline Junkies

I enjoy motor racing and I enjoy reading about the pioneering early days of racing, written by the characters who took part in this dangerous sport. I have read a few books now about racing drivers, pilots and stunt drivers and the thing that leaps out when reading about these escapades is the sheer joy and certainty that this was what they wanted to do.

By today’s standards they did what interested them and did not worry about the consequences.  These drivers however seemed to exceed their quota of catastrophic mechanical failures. Steering failures, detached wheels and cockpits flooding with fuel, rather than warning them off, provided them with a diet they absolutely thrived on, with only a vague relationship with Health and Safety by today’s standards! Most of them seem to suffer many accidents, some serious, that required stays in hospital, sometimes for a considerable time. I suppose to a degree I envy them their freedom to undertake their activity without any restrictions.   

(Published 17th Mar 2021) Read full article

Teddy Bears

Question:

What did Andy Pandy, Christopher Robin, Zippy, Kermit, Bill Badger and Noddy all have in common?

Answer: They all had a bear in their lives! (To find out which bears you have to read to the end of the article…)

While these bears take many forms, I am going to focus on the beloved Teddy Bear for this article. How this delightful stuffed toy got its name is quite a long story. It began with Theodore Roosevelt, President of the United States . His nickname was Teddy and he hated it! In 1902 he went on a bear hunting expedition.  While other hunters had already been successful, he had not and so his attendants cornered, clubbed and tied an American black bear to a tree, inviting Roosevelt to kill it. Deeming this to be unsportsmanlike (I should think so!) he refused but instructed his attendants to put the poor creature out of its misery.

(Published 23rd Feb 2021) Read full article

Animal Stories

(Published 26th Jan 2021) Read full article

January

After the celebrations of the festive season January is normally seen as a dark and cold  month just to get through until payday.I think January 2021 will be different, firstly we will hopefully  see the vaccination against Covid 19 rolled out around the world and what an amazing thing that will be!!

So such good news is something to celebrate, so I thought I would look to see what other good or interesting events have happened in January over the years.

On January 3rd, 1924 the British archaeologist Howard Carter and his team uncovered a stone sarcophagus, containing three coffins nested within each other. The last, golden one contained the mummified body of the teenage pharaoh Tutankhamun.

(Published 17th Dec 2020) Read full article

That Was 2020 That Was…

Wow! What a year! So many things have happened… well, two main things but it seems like a lot!

The evening of March 11th 2020 saw extremely high Spring Tides in Tintern resulting in the River Wye, which flows opposite our shop, deciding it was going to overflow its banks and the road, and come into the building and browse our shelves! Prior to this, we did have a flood alert from the Environmental Agency and we had prepared ourselves. The flood boards were in place and books were moved from floor level to shelves to higher up. This we thought would be enough and, anyway, the river was highly unlikely to enter the building - wasn’t it?

(Published 1st Dec 2020) Read full article

Art

Art is a necessity – an essential part of our enlightenment process. We cannot, as a civilized society, regard ourselves as being enlightened without the arts.” Ken Danby

Art can move us to tears, it can make us laugh, it can question our beliefs and the way we look at the world. I think art can be more than just a painting it can be an illustration, a building, ceramics, a film, a play, books -  in fact it I think it can be all of them.

(Published 3rd Nov 2020) Read full article