Stella and Rose's Books Logo

Stella & Rose's Books

Specialists in Rare & Collectable Books

Trip to America

I recently went to the USA to visit my family in Houston, Texas whom I had not seen for nine years. As with so many others I had planned a trip in 2020 which had to be postponed.

Orsak's Cafe / Fayetteville  

It was a fairly laid-back holiday as Dad is getting on in years, so nothing energetic was on the cards, which is just as well as the lead up to the trip was a whole other adventure. Aiming to go soon after the New Year is madness when you have Christmas to sort out as well as planning a trip. I won’t be doing that again!

(Published 30th Aug 2023) Read full article

Water Life

Are you fascinated by water? I don’t mean the wet stuff that falls from the sky, but the places it ends up – in streams, rivers, lakes and the ocean. I’ve always had a fascination for water and the life contained in and around it. When travelling I try to look for a place to stay near a river as you can guarantee there will be something interesting to look at.

Starfish in Madeira  

When I was young, many moons ago, my aunt and uncle lived in a house that had a tiny stream at the bottom of the garden, I loved going down there, ever hopeful that I might find a minnow or two, or some kind of fishy life. Sadly, it was quite devoid of water life but it didn’t put me off!

(Published 26th Jul 2023) Read full article

Errol Le Cain

Errol Le Cain was born in Singapore in 1941 and shortly afterwards moved to Agra in India.

Although Errol Le Cain had no formal art training he showed an obvious talent from an early age.

Aladdin / Beauty and the Beast


He first showed an interest in film making and at the age of eleven made a short film called "The Enchanted Mouse" and then at the age of fifteen another film called "The Little Goatherd".

This brought him to the attention of the agents of the film distributor Pearl and Dean, so in 1956 at the tender age of 15 they paid his passage from Singapore to London to start a career in film and television animation.

(Published 29th Jun 2023) Read full article

Vera Southgate

Vera Southgate (birth name Pegg) was born in County Durham in March 1916 and was raised alongside her sister Mary. Both sisters would eventually train and become teachers in their own right. Vera's career was varied, and she taught children of many ages including infant, junior, secondary and also at special schools

Vera Southgate (Wiki) / Cinderella (606D)  

In 1942 she married Arthur Southgate and stopped teaching for a while.  Sadly, Vera was widowed only six years later in 1948 and, having no children, she returned to teaching, this time in Manchester where she met and married her second husband Douglas Thomas Booth in 1961.  Despite this, Vera kept the surname 'Southgate' for most of her published works.

(Published 30th May 2023) Read full article

Eleanor Farjeon

Eleanor Farjeon (known to her family as Nellie), was born in London on 13th of February 1881 to a talented and artistic literary family.  Her father Benjamin Leopold Farjeon was himself an author, while her mother Margaret was a daughter of the American actor Joseph Jefferson.  Eleanor was their only daughter and had three brothers.

Eleanor Farjeon (Wiki)  

Being born into such gifted family, her writing was encouraged from a very young age, and although having no formal education but rather being home taught, this did not prevent her from writing a full story, 'Kitty's Dream' at just six years of age.  Farjeon's writing was not just limited to one genre, she also wrote poetry, plays, children’s and adult novels as well as short stories, essays and non-fiction articles along with operas and operettas. Her audience, therefore, was vast and varied.

(Published 27th Apr 2023) Read full article

Pictorial Bindings

Having recently purchased a large collection of children’s books with pictorial bindings I would like to tell you about them.

What do we mean when we talk about pictorial bindings? Frequently found on children’s books the cloth bindings are stamped in different colours and in many cases embellished with gilt. While pictorial bindings became very popular during the Victorian period with the Art Noveau movement, the majority of the books in our collection are from the Edwardian period with designs printed on the front covers and spines and the title often in gilt.

(Published 28th Mar 2023) Read full article

Additive Manufacturing – or 3D Printing

I suppose there is a great British tradition of men tinkering away in sheds at the bottom of gardens – inventing some amazing contraption or fixing that kitchen appliance that has decided to stop working.

I like to think that Additive Manufacturing - better known as 3D printing - falls into this same tradition. Its popularity, low cost and minimal barriers to entry have allowed a younger generation to rapidly realise ideas or quickly design and print spare parts for obsolete gadgets.

Printer Filament / 3D Printer  

Before I relate a little of my 3D printing story, I should explain how these amazing contraptions work. At the most basic level, these devices produce 3D parts by building up the part layer by layer. The media (and therefore the process of fusing the layers) can vary greatly. At the high-end, metal powders are used, which are then fused using a high-powered laser in a process called SLS (Selective Laser Sintering). The end result can be incredibly complex metal parts with shapes and hollow areas that would be impossible to create using traditional methods.

(Published 28th Feb 2023) Read full article

Pop-up, Action and Moveable Books

Some books are different, some books have to have a special section of their own. Pop-up, action and moveable books all fall into this category with their own section in Room Four of the Stella and Rose’s Bookshop in Tintern

Having grown up with pop-up books like Jan Pienkowski’sHaunted House’ I have an enduring love of this type of book and working at the bookstore has introduced me to all kinds of moving books I was previously unaware of. 

(Published 26th Jan 2023) Read full article

Michael Foreman

Michael Foreman is an award-winning illustrator of over 300 titles for both adults and children. He is best known for his children’s book illustrations and is a winner of numerous awards including the Nestle Smarties Book Prize and Kate Greenaway Medal. He was born in Suffolk in 1938 and grew up near Lowestoft, in Pakefield, where his mother kept the village shop. 

As a child, he did not have any books in the family home. This gave him the advantage of being able to come up with completely new look illustrations, never having seen the original illustrations of childhood classics and often reading them for the first time when asked to illustrate the classics. He has illustrated books by Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare, The Brothers Grimm, J.M. Barrie, Roald Dahl and Rudyard Kipling, to name a few. His style, using watercolour and line drawings, is especially suited to fables, folk and fairy tales, giving a sense of mystery and menace. He has also written and illustrated numerous books for children himself.

(Published 3rd Jan 2023) Read full article

The Funny (and not so funny) Side of Living in Portugal

My turn to write the monthly article for our website but the eternal question – what to write about? I am staying at my cottage in Portugal at the moment so thought I would recount some of the more interesting aspects of living here.

The first lesson my husband and I learned on arriving here was – be patient!  Nothing and no-one moves in a hurry here, unlike in the UK where everyone seems to be rushing around all the time. In some ways it is refreshing, in other ways it is immensely frustrating. My husband, Cliff, found this the most difficult thing to get used to but eventually was forced to relax and go with the flow.

(Published 22nd Nov 2022) Read full article

A Wonderful Weekend

I live near Monmouth and am lucky enough to be able to walk from my house into some woods where I can listen to bird song and watch the changing light, depending on the time of year, day, and weather.

I can also walk into town across the Wye bridge, but sadly this is not so enchanting at present.  In the last five years, only five years, it has changed from a river full of fish and wildlife to a smelly, sad river with large mushroom shaped plumes of algae.  This can be lethal to dogs who swim in the river and harmful to humans as well as to life on and in the river.  There used to be more than 20 swans to be seen at any one time, many with multiple cygnets, now we only see one or two and the cygnets find it hard to survive with the lack of food.  Conversely there are many more Canada geese because they can graze the surrounding grasses more effectively.  As to be expected these days it is down to short-sighted human pollution, water extraction, climate change and the lack of political will.

(Published 1st Nov 2022) Read full article

Arthur Rackham

Arthur Rackham, one of 12 children, was born 19th September 1867 in Vauxhall, London and died 6th September 1939.

Arthur Rackham is undoubtedly a name that can be placed right in the heart of the Golden Age of book illustration, and with it conjures up images of elves, fairies, princes & princesses, brave young knights and dragons. Some would say he was a direct inspiration for Disney many years later.

The last years of the nineteenth century saw a huge new interest in folk & fairy tales by the general public. This subject was revived mostly by the authors Andrew Lang and Joseph Jacobs and could be seen in the pages of Strand magazine from all corners of the world. This Golden Age of children’s book illustration reached its peak between the years 1905-1914 due to this interest in folk and fairy tales. At the same time the new technology being developed in book printing techniques enabled colour illustrations to be reproduced for mass publication.

(Published 20th Sep 2022) Read full article

A Vampire Hunt

On a beautiful hot day in the middle of July, my brother-in-law invited me to go on a vampire hunt. Now I hear Transylvania is nice this time of year – but it seemed a long way to go for a day-trip!

Our vampire hunt was to start at the South-East edge of the Black Mountain, between Sennybridge and Ystradgynlais  in the Brecon Beacons National Park in Wales. My brother-in-law (Mark) assured me there was definitely a vampire to be found – but not of the Bram Stoker variety. Rather, this was the flying kind – a de Havilland Vampire.

De Havilland Vampire (Credit Wikipedia) / Looking Back on Llyn y Fan Fawr  

The de Havilland Vampire was only the second jet powered fighter to be operated by the RAF (after the Gloster Meteor) and was developed during the Second World War. It entered service with the RAF in 1946, just months after the war ended. The Vampire remained in front-line RAF service until 1953, at this point moving to secondary roles such as pilot training. It was finally fully retired in 1966.

(Published 31st Aug 2022) Read full article

Wildlife in My Garden

I am very lucky to live in the Wye Valley on the edge of the Forest of Dean. Our garden backs onto woodland so we have a wide variety of wildlife. Having cats, I have also seen another layer of wildlife that has been brought to the door over the years!

We have the whole spectrum of wildlife from Deer down to Spiders. There is always something to see all through the year. The birdsong, however, is a constant beautiful backdrop all through the day, but the dawn chorus is also spectacular especially in the spring. This year for the first time we heard a Cuckoo and had regular fly pasts from a Red Kite. The Tawny Owls can be heard at night calling to each other across the valley. Bats are often present in some number at dusk during the summer. At first it was a bit disconcerting,  as there is no sound and they fly so quickly you are not sure what you are seeing. Even more so in the bedroom during the early hours! In that case we did manage to carefully catch the little creature and pass it onto the Bat Protection people.

(Published 27th Jul 2022) Read full article

The Rapture of Raptors

Birds of Prey, also known as Raptors, are a group of birds that includes hawks, owls, eagles, vultures, falcons and more.

If, when you think of Big Birds, you can only imagine one that is yellow and from Sesame Street, you need to read on…!

Raptors play an important ecological role in the natural habitat by keeping the prey populations under control.

(Published 30th Jun 2022) Read full article

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