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Stella & Rose's Books

Specialists in Rare & Collectable Books

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

Hans Andersen’s Fairy Tales Illustrated by W.Heath Robinson published by Folio Society

Hans Andersen’s Fairy Tales Illustrated by W.Heath Robinson published by Folio Society

A fairy tale or fairytale is an instance of folklore in the form of a short story. Such stories usually include mythical creatures such as fairies, elves, giants, unicorns, and goblins. Magic or enchantments are also often involved.

Book & Slipcase / Hans Chrisitan Andersen (Wiki)  

Hans Christian Andersen was a Danish author best remembered for his literary fairy tales which he wrote between 1835 and 1872. He wrote a total of 156 stories across nine volumes which were translated into more than 125 languages.

(Published 13th Oct 2022) Read full article

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