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Stella & Rose's Books

Specialists in Rare & Collectable Books

Spring Heeled Jack by Phillip Pullman

It was the colourful cover of the book that caught my eye and also the title. I was intrigued to know who Spring-Heeled Jack was, so I turned the book over and it describes him as a sort of modern-day Superhero.  I have since found out that he was a notorious figure in Victorian times who was reputed to have attacked women, terrorised and harassed people at night and was able to leap high into the air.

Victims described him as having a terrifying appearance with "eyes that resembled red balls of fire" like the devil, but more importantly was his ability to make extraordinary leaps into the air to escape capture. He would leap across rooftops with astonishing agility blowing flames from his mouth so newspapers and the public at the time gave him the name "Spring-Heeled Jack".  Although he was never caught, he became one of the most popular characters of the period and eventually was portrayed as a hero of sorts which is probably why the renowned author, Sir Philip Pullman portrays him in this vein too.

(Published 11th Jun 2024) Read full article

Deer of the World: Their Evolution, Behaviour and Ecology by Valerius Geist

Looking around the office again for inspiration in preparing my featured book article, I noticed we had multiple copies of Deer of the World. I don’t know about you, but I am an animal lover and was immediately drawn to this title. Here in the Wye Valley and the neighbouring Forest of Dean, we have many Deer although I could not tell you what ‘brand’ they are! They are very stealthy creatures and I find myself in awe of them whenever I come across one… so silent in their comings and goings. I guess not so good if they are loose in your countryside garden demolishing your beloved plants!

(Published 7th May 2024) Read full article

Yeadon’s Register of LNER Locomotives

Yeadon’s Register of LNER Locomotives

As I am normally the buyer of Children’s books for the business I often write about children’s books, authors and illustrators. However, as we have recently purchased a very large collection of books about trains and buses, I thought I would take a look at what the collection contained. 

Yeadon’s Register is a series of 56 books covering all the locomotives of the LNER (London and North Eastern Railway). Each volume is well illustrated with class introduction and full history of each locomotive, leaving the reader in no doubt as to what happened to any particular LNER locomotive during its lifetime. A must for the railway enthusiast!

(Published 9th Apr 2024) Read full article

London (Illustrated) - A Complete Guide…

Or… Herbert’s Guide To London, Being a Guide to Hotels, Places of Amusement, Objects of Interest, Parks, Clubs, Markets, Docks, Railway and Steamship Routes. In fact, anything you could wish to know about the London of almost 150 years ago appears to be in this Guide!

Front Cover / Title Page  

Books like this have always fascinated me. Despite the fact that I hated history lessons at school, I find that I’m drawn to books that describe what life was like in the past. This particular book is beautifully presented – unusually so for a directory, which are usually dull affairs. Not so this one, as every page is embellished with a beautiful gold and purple border and scattered throughout the book are full-page black and white engravings of various monuments and buildings to be seen in London.

(Published 6th Mar 2024) Read full article

Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There

Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There was first published in December 1871 and is the sequel to Alice's Adventures In Wonderland (1865), by author Lewis Carroll.

Alice Through the Looking Glass - John Tenniel, Tony Ross & Helen Oxenbury  

Alice again enters a fantastical and nonsensical world, but is this the Wonderland that she happened upon once a lazy dream ago, when she followed the White rabbit down that hole?  This time it is snowing outside so she is playing inside with two kittens, a black one called Kitty and a white one called Snowdrop, so this is quite different to the sunny day when she entered Wonderland previously.  But again, we see the 'dream' quality - is this a prerequisite for entering fantastical and wondrous worlds?  “Alice was sitting curled up in a corner of the great armchair, half talking to herself and half asleep”.

(Published 14th Feb 2024) Read full article

Thomas Mawson Life, Gardens and Landscapes By Janet Waymark

This is a book filled with beautiful photographs showcasing the work both at home and abroad of the gardens and public places designed by Thomas Mawson.

Thomas Mawson / Front Cover  

This is the first full biography of Thomas Hayton Mawson (1861 – 1933) and charts his successes from Cumbria to Greece and the Civic Art he designed such as Hanley Park near Stoke on Trent.

In the early twentieth century he was the most sought-after garden and landscape designer of the day and could name crowned heads of Europe among his clients.

(Published 10th Jan 2024) Read full article

S.R.Badmin and the English Landcape By Chris Beetles

I chose this lovely book as the picture on the cover reminded me of when I used to live in Kent.  It is about landscape artist Stanley Roy Badmin of whom, I imagine, some of you may have heard.  His works have appeared on greeting cards, calendars, in copies of the Readers Digest and Radio Times magazines and much more.

The book has been written by Chris Beetles, a London art dealer, who has put together 44 of the artist’s watercolours plus some etchings.  Chris Beetles has been a leading authority on S.R. Badmin for the past thirty years and the book provides an informative history of Badmin’s career and his development as a prominent etcher and fine artist.

(Published 12th Dec 2023) Read full article

The White Goblin

Written and illustrated by Ul De Rico and published in 1996, this is the sequel to The Rainbow Goblins which was published in 1978.

It is a children’s book (probably for older children unlike its predecessor) and the story is about the White Goblin who was banished by his brothers, the Rainbow Goblins, and lives in a world of snow and ice.  After learning of his brothers’ ignominious death, he wonders, “who am I to be thrust out of the beautiful, coloured world” and goes on a very selfish colour-drinking rampage.  He greedily catches, licks and sucks every colour he can reach.  He then self-righteously decides that he is now the ruler of the world and descends into the Cave City and persuades the Cave Goblins (living in peace, harmony and happiness at this point) to help him build gigantic buildings and cities.

(Published 7th Nov 2023) Read full article

Scenes of Commerce by Land and Sea

Scenes of Commerce by Land and Sea by Rev. Isaac Taylor

So, I was browsing the Natural History section in our Special Book Room on our website and this title caught my eye. That looks interesting I thought, especially when I saw the subtitle “Where Does It Come From? Answered”. And indeed, it is interesting!

Published almost 200 hundred years ago in 1839 by John Harris, leading British publisher of illustrated books and fiction from 1801 to 1839, this book has 396 pages including an index and 66 black and white engravings. Let’s take a look inside…

(Published 10th Oct 2023) Read full article

The Secret Language of Churches & Cathedrals by Richard Stemp

A few years ago I went to a talk given by Matthew Rice at the Cheltenham Literature Festival. The talk was about describing architecture and the language we use to do so. He said it is not enough, or indeed accurate, to describe something we see as that ‘twiddly bit on top of the curved thing below the window’ - we need to learn the language! So, there is a language for everything from Bricklaying to Churches and Cathedrals. It felt quite revelatory at the time but also quite obvious. The talk was excellent by the way, and I am now the proud owner of Rice’s Church Primer.

(Published 30th Aug 2023) Read full article

Walking in Seventy-year Footsteps - Hando's Monmouthshire Sketch Book

I’m new to Fred J. Hando’s books, but I instantly loved his interesting prose and writing style. Fred J. Hando (23rd March 1888- 17th February 1970) was from Newport, Wales, and a head teacher, artist and writer on the Monmouthshire and Gwent area. The main aim of his numerous books and newspaper articles was to “persuade readers to see the little places of a shy county.” 

A prolific writer of the local area, I would now follow him anywhere given a chance, even if just around the corner, because he would make it interesting, weaving a story from the history of the area that would make me see the view in a completely different way.

(Published 10th Aug 2023) Read full article

Familiar Garden Flowers

Familiar Garden Flowers by Shirley Hibberd, Illustrated by F. Edward Hulme

Having lived in a flat for most of my adult life I am now very much enjoying having a garden and learning about different plants and what they do and don’t like.

This set of books really appealed to me when I first saw it.  It is so attractive to look at – both the covers of each book and the beautiful chromolithographic plates of the garden flowers (200 in total!).

The books look at the different variety of plants that can be found in a typical English garden and offer detailed descriptions and a history of each plant as well as tips on how to plant, propagate, maintain etc.

(Published 5th Jul 2023) Read full article

The Mountain of Adventure by Enid Blyton

Like many of my age, I grew up reading Enid Blyton. For most of my childhood, my parents made the decision not to have a TV in the house. Although this was an unpopular decision with myself and my siblings, I look back with admiration as it meant we were moved to use our time in other (more constructive?) ways. Living in rural Mid-Wales, this meant spending a lot of time outside, but it also meant reading – a lot of reading!

My earliest memories of reading include Malcolm Saville, Arthur Ransome, Ladybird books, as well as lots of non-fiction such as Usborne books on nature. But probably the largest number of books in our home library were written by Enid Blyton.

(Published 13th Jun 2023) Read full article

Seven Years with Samantha by Clive Ball

Seven Years with Samantha by Clive Ball

Front Cover / Leaving Dover

 

This is an intriguing title as the cover shows an old vintage car in the desert. Samantha is Clive’s 1929 Austin Seven which he had rebuilt. It had a 750cc engine and did 40mph. He set off from Dover in 1965 and ended up doing one of the longest journeys ever undertaken in such an old car, extending to a total of 48,000 miles. I’m sure this record has been surpassed many times since but in 1965 this was some achievement.

(Published 9th May 2023) Read full article

Now We Are Six by A.A. Milne

Now We Are Six’ was first published in 1927 and is the third title in the Pooh bear quartet, after 'When We Were Very Young' (1924), 'Winnie-the-Pooh' (1926) and before 'The House At Pooh Corner' (1928).  It is the second in the series that is a collection of poetry and rhymes for children and contains a total of 35 different poems – some more well-known than others. Perhaps this is partly why some say that this is their least favourite book of the four.

(Published 15th Apr 2023) Read full article

The Big Book of Fables Edited by Walter Jerrold and Illustrated by Charles Robinson

The Big Book of Fables Edited by Walter Jerrold and Illustrated by Charles Robinson

Walter Jerrold has chosen the fables and edited this Big Book of Fables which was first published in 1912 (although, of course, the fables themselves are much older). Jerrold was a writer and newspaper editor. He spent much of his time in London, starting out as a clerk in a newspaper counting house and going on to become deputy editor of The Observer.

(Published 7th Mar 2023) Read full article

Floor Games

Floor Games by H.G.Wells

Famous for his science fiction novels, now regarded as classics, H.G. Wells is not so well-known as an author of children’s books. In fact Wells wrote several books for younger children including ‘The Adventures of Tommy’ (1929), ‘Little Wars’ (1913) and this little book ‘Floor Games’, published in 1911.

(Published 14th Feb 2023) Read full article

Photographic Memories Series – The Francis Frith Collection

Photographic Memories Series – The Francis Frith Collection

The Photographic Memories Series is just one of a staggering twelve series of books that feature the famous black and white photographs from the Francis Frith collection.  Photographic Memories presents 310 titles of various counties, cities and areas in the UK, with photos showcasing these areas prior to the 1960s. 

How did this series come about?

Francis Frith (1822-1898) was born in Chesterfield, Derbyshire and turned out to be a multi-talented man.  He was a devout Quaker, attending Quaker schools in Ackworth and Birmingham.  Frith was also a highly successful, if somewhat diverse businessman, who started out in the cutlery business and went on to establish a wholesale grocery business in Liverpool

(Published 10th Jan 2023) Read full article

The First Blue Peter Annual

The First Blue Peter Annual

The first Blue Peter annual was published in 1964 by Lutterworth Press, it is a distillation of the programme in book form.In the first annual we meet presenters Valerie Singleton and Christopher Trace, we also meet Petra the first Blue Peter dog, there is a visit to the Blue Peter studio, a story by Oliver Postgate, how to make sweets, building a sledge, making a miniature garden, a song illustrated by Peter Firmin, it is a lovely reminder of childhood.

(Published 6th Dec 2022) Read full article

Zozo (or Curious George)

Zozo (or Curious George) by H.A. & Margret Rey

Curious George has become one of the most loved and recognizable characters from children’s literature. His stories are so popular that they have never been out of print since their first published date in the early 1940s.

Despite being a monkey, George is never pictured with a tail – something I hadn’t really registered until I was researching for this article.  George is described as a ‘good little monkey, and always very curious’.  I wonder how many people know that the first British edition of Curious George was actually entitled “Zozo” so as not to associate King George VI with a monkey!  The British edition was first published in 1942 and later reprinted with edited text and the new title which everyone has come to know and love.

(Published 15th Nov 2022) Read full article