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Stella & Rose's Books

Specialists in Rare & collectable books


What is a collection and what makes a collector collect?

One dictionary definition of collecting is "the act of gathering things together" and a collection is defined as "a set of objects collected for their interest, value, or beauty". The desire to collect seems to be something that is built into us, an intrinsic part of being human. We all collect something even though we may not view ourselves as collectors (Don't believe me? What about that collection of shoes in the cupboard, or suits in the wardrobe, or CDs in the rack?)

Me - I collect children's books and teddy bears. Why? Because I like them. But is that really a good enough reason for collectingthem? I like lots of things but I don't collect everything I like. So how did my collections begin?

the christmas tree - a long-time passion

When I wrote this article it was June - but for those of us with the bug, our Christmas Tree is a year round passion.

Mine started as a child, when the Woolworth's plastic tree with matching baubles my Mother used to put up every year did not match the pictures in my books, i.e. trees laden with candles, glowing in the corner of the room, intricate ornaments dripping from every limb. A clash of images I never forgot.

Left: "The Christmas Tree" by E. Osborn.

When it was time for me to create my own tree, it had of course to be a reflection of my childhood image of what a tree should be. So the purchase of the tree involves trips out into the countryside, looking at many and various options, perfection never quite achieved, but this never stops me trying again each year and surprising my wife with the size of tree you can get into the back of a Ford Ka!

christmas is a-coming

It happens every year - and I am not referring to this annual enforced hard labour in a locked cell with a typewriter! No really - writing these articles is joy unconfined (as anyone working here will tell you). No, I am talking (or rather writing) about the annual misery of P u t t i n g - u p - t h e - C h ri s t m a s - L i g h t s.

It always seems to follow the same predictable path. All the lights and decorations which were carefully put away in labelled boxes have, in the intervening eleven months, mysteriously moved around and, in the process, completely entangled themselves with each other. What was going to take 30 minutes to sort into the bundles of 'inside' and 'outside' lights now takes over two hours.

The Children's Laureate

The children's author and illustrator Anthony Browne had the honour of being selected as the new Children's Laureate in June of this year, 2009. This role is awarded to an author or illustrator of Children's literature and acknowledges their contribution in their chosen field. The idea for a Children's Laureate materialised during a conversation between the late Ted Hughes (a previous Poet Laureate) and the children's writer Michael Morpurgo.

Nominations are received from various organisations representing critics, librarians, booksellers and writers and these are considered by a panel of judges from the same range of fields. The position is awarded for a two year period and during this time the post holder, in their own way, attempts to raise the profile of children's literature both with adults and children. There have been five previous Children's Laureates and so far, although each has taken a different approach, all of them have carried out the role with enthusiasm.

Cheltenham Literature Festival

October is one of my favourite times of the year. Not just that it harbours the last vestige of summer warmth or the portent of the autumn still to come. Not even the childish pleasure that comes from crunching through the brittle golden leaves underfoot or delighting in finding shiny Horse Chestnuts - I love this time of year for The Cheltenham Literature Festival!

Cheltenham is a Spa town nestling on the edge of the Cotswolds and every October for 10 days the town is alive with all things literary - authors, biographers, illustrators, philosophers and critics.

I started going to the festival about ten years ago when I was still living in a sleepy village in Lincolnshire and my yearly excursion to Cheltenham felt like a journey to a different planet, not just a different town, although catching the train from Peterborough to Cheltenham Spa was nothing like space travel!

Chalet School

What popular series of books has spanned three generations and still continues to be sought today? What author was able to pen 58 full length hard back books (plus one shorter paperback story!) and retain the magic and character of these well loved tales?

Two words - Chalet School!

British born author, Elinor M. Brent-Dyer was born and grew up in South Shields, an industrial town on Tyneside. Although her stories told of large, happy families, Elinor's own family was small and faced many difficulties particularly in Elinor's early years. She had only one brother (a year younger than herself) and two unknown half brothers. Her parent's marriage was short-lived.


The cat has developed an intimate relationship with mankind whilst still having its own independence. The cat leads a double life. Out of the home the cat is its own boss, alert and free living wild creature. In the home it is an overgrown kitten. The cat manages to remain tame because of its upbringing, being with humans and other cats from an early age it considers itself both.

Cats have been domesticated for more than 3,500 years. Remains dating from 9,000 years ago have been found at a Neolithic site at Jericho, but there is no proof that these were domesticated cats. The only proof we know that the transformation from wild cat to domestic animal took place, is that from specific records and detailed pictures from ancient Egypt.

The History of the Domestic Cat

How do you feel about the domestic cat? Chances are, if you are looking at this webpage now, you love them rather than hate them. Few people are neutral towards cats. Throughout its history, the cat has been seen as both demonic and godlike – what a contrast!

The domestic cat can be traced back to a small African wild cat, a grey animal with blackish stripes and spots on the body and legs, dusky feet and a black-tipped tail with several rings.

Ancient Egypt:

The cat, along with the lion and a number of other creatures, was sacred to the Ancient Egyptians. The killing of a cat, whether intentional or not, was punishable by death. It has been recorded that a soldier who drove his chariot over a cat in Alexandria was consequently stoned to death by an enraged mob!

The Carnegie Medal

The Carnegie Medal was established by the Library Association early in the last century, in memory of the great Scottish-born philanthropist Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919). Carnegie was a self-made industrialist who made his fortune in the steel industry in America - wealth that he used to provide funding for many British Public libraries. Reminiscing on his own childhood experience of using a library, Carnegie resolved that "if ever wealth came to me it should be used to establish free libraries".

1935 was the centenary of Carnegie's birth and it was decided that a medal should be instituted in celebration of this. Therefore, on April 2nd 1936, the Library Association executive committee accepted the recommendation that "a gold medal be made annually for the best children's book published during the year by a British author". The medal for a given year is not announced until the summer of the following year, allowing time for the judging process. Therefore, in the summer of 1937, the winner of the first Carnegie medal was announced - Arthur Ransome for Pigeon Post.

Can I Help You?

I sing with a small choir and before a recent concert our conductor suggested we rest our voices for a day or two and tried to talk as little as possible. How, I wondered, was I going to do that when talking to customers is a large part of my job! I really enjoy chatting to the many people who visit or phone Rose's Books. I ignored his advice and carried on as normal!

As well as dealing with book related queries I seem to spend some time (particularly in summer) giving Tourist Information. We do have an excellent Tourist Information Centre in Hay at the top of the main car park which is the other side of town from us. I can usually answer questions about where to go for coffee/lunch/tea/ice cream, (I admit to being a little biased here as one of my daughter's works in Shepherds where they sell the most scrumptious sheep's milk ice-cream in a wide variety of flavours), where to get milk or bread and how to get to other book shops. I find it useful to give out the map of Hay Booksellers which shows where each shop is and what they specialise in.

Nikolaus Pevsner - The Buildings of England

Pevsner's unique inventory of English Buildings comprises 20,000 pages in forty-six volumes. The Series has been universally acclaimed as a triumph of scholarship, insight and perseverance. Today a tour of the Buildings Of England without a "Pevsner" in hand is unthinkable! But where did it all start?

On his arrival as a refugee from the Nazis in the 1930s, Pevsner was amazed to find that there was no comparable accessible detailed record of English architecture along the lines of the invaluable "Hand-bucher", compiled by the great pioneering architectural historian Dehio who had cycled his way round every important building in Germany.

Left: Nottinghamshire, 1st edition 1951.

bonzo the dog

As I sat at the shop desk, waiting for inspiration to hit me for my Theme Of The Month article, I turned towards the book shelves and there was Bonzo the dog smiling back at me from the cover of the 1948 Bonzo Annual and it was a eureka moment.

I am, and always have been, a dog lover and at home, since I was 5 or 6 years old, we have always had at least one dog, and sometimes up to three. Bonzo always makes me smile so I decided to try and find out a little more about him and his creator George Studdy.

Blue Peter Memories

My sister and I were avid Blue Peter fans in our childhoods and everything stopped on a Monday and a Thursday evening for half an hour as we sat glued to the television. Blue Peter was first broadcast on the 16th October 1958 but it would be the late 1960s before we started to tune in. At that time the presenters were Valerie Singleton, Peter Purves and John Noakes and even though we watched various other excellent presenters over the years these three were always our favourites. To date there have been 35 presenters and, due to it's continuing popularity, Blue Peter is still broadcast every week. I don't suppose there are many, if any, other children's programmes that have had such a long run. A mix of guests in the studio, outside broadcasts, daredevil stunts and things to make filled each programme - as I'm sure you will remember if you were also a fan.

Bird Watching in The Algarve

A reminder for the geographically challenged, the Algarve is in Portugal and forms the extreme South West tip of Europe. Its position, climate and geology make it a superb area for the birdwatcher and it's important to state up front that Chris and I are great birdwatchers but poor bird identifiers and often rely on our “oracle”, a friend back in the UK for positive identifications so any mistakes in this article... we would love to be educated!

There are four main habitats in the Algarve:

-the salt marshes -the inland orchards and orange groves -areas of maquis type scrub -the coast itself

However, from the end of September to early November, it's difficult to say whether there are more “birders” than birds in this area. A veritable plague or should that be flock of birders descend to witness the stunning North to South migration of hundreds of birds of prey and tens of thousands of passerines as they head out over Cape St. Vincent. Sometimes we felt like putting up a sign to warn the birds – don't stop here!!!

Beneath the Big Top

The circus – you either love it or you hate it, don’t you? Me, I love it. I always have done. I was born a josser; one not directly connected to the circus world so why this fascination? It all started when I was taken as a small child to see Bertram Mills Circus in Gloucester way back in the 1950s. I remember the smell of the earth and sawdust; the hard seats; but most of all I remember Coco the Clown. In his garish checked coat, his oversized boots and his bright orange hair that seemed to stand on end of its own accord he was both a frightening and fascinating being. It was when he plucked me from the audience to take part in his ‘tricks’ that I became hooked. I left the circus that day with sawdust in my shoes.

Banned Books

Governments through the ages have expended great energy in fighting wars with and against real live human soldiers. Perhaps what has not always been so apparent is the equal, and sometimes greater war that some of those governments have waged against the 'twenty six lead soldiers 'of the printing press.

Benjamin Franklin and Karl Marx both understood how the power of the printed word could issue a challenge more potent than any number of guns and bayonets. If we accept that writing, in some form, is at least 6000 years old then it may actually predate anything that we might regard as a sword. The pen might possibly be older than the sword, but the big debate has always been about which of them wields the greater power.


'Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness', the first line of a poem by John Keats which, in my opinion, captures the essence of autumn. If I am honest, autumn isn't my favourite season - spring is - but like all the seasons it has its good points and not so good points.

One aspect of autumn that I do enjoy is the autumn colour. The amount and intensity of colour in any particular year is affected by the weather conditions before and during the time when the chlorophyll in the leaves is decreasing. Ideally we need a succession of warm and sunny days followed by cool but not freezing nights to produce the best display. The sugars in the leaves combined with lots of sunshine produce the pigments but the amount of moisture in the soil also has an effect, so with our unpredictable British weather no two autumns are alike. Stella Books is in an area surrounded by deciduous woodlands so if the conditions are right there could be some spectacular colours this autumn. Why not visit the shop this autumn and see for yourself.

The Armchair Time-Traveller

Hands up all of you who read the title and thought that this was going to be about H.G. Wells and The Time Machine... Isn't it amazing how a few words can so powerfully create an image in the mind of the reader? Although a scientist with too much time on his hands may yet create a time-travelling armchair, we can all achieve personal transportation with alternative, but perhaps no less sophisticated, equipment: a book and the human mind.

Butterflies Or Bust

Towards the end of summer last year I reached a decision. After several years of miserable summer seasons, we had actually had some decent weather but something seemed to be missing... there were hardly any butterflies or bees around the garden. Steps would have to be taken!

As we've all seen in the news during recent years, the populations of bees and butterflies have been in decline for some time and I realized that it had become something of a novelty to see a butterfly in the garden. What had happened to those endless summer days of childhood when the gardens were full of multi-coloured butterflies and one used to collect pupa cases in match-boxes?!


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ABOVE, left to right: Figures 40 - 43

Figure 40 - Five Run Away Together 1st ed. 1944  

Figure 41 - Five Go To Smuggler's Top 1st ed. 1945

Figure 42 - Five Run Away Together 1st ed. 1944   

Figure 43 -Five Go To Smuggler's Top 1st ed. 1945

When all 11 SB dustwrappers were examined in detail, only 3 inconsistencies were found. These are as follows:

The word Anne is correctly spelled on the front flap of the 1st edition of Five Go To Smuggler's Top but is incorrectly spelled on the other dustwrapper.