About Rowan Books

Rowan Books is a publisher and bookseller.  It was established to promote books written by the late Jean Cantlie Stewart.  Jean wrote on subjects about which she felt passionately: Scotland, education, the Navy, animal stories and latterly on China.  Jean’s grandfather, Sir James Cantlie, was a lifelong friend of Sun Yat-Sen, the founder of modern China.  Sir James saved Sun’s life after he had been kidnapped by the Chinese Legation in London in 1896 and Jean became something of an expert on Sun. Rowan Books continues to promote Jean’s work.  In addition, we are broadening the scope to include the publication and sale of material by other authors.  Rowan Books is now managed by members of Jean’s family.  Jean’s son Hugh Stewart is Chairman, Hugh’s brother-in-law Keith Morris is Commercial Director and Hugh’s wife Wendy Stewart is Administration Manager.  Our areas of specialisation are China, Scotland, Maritime, Animal Stories, Education and Poetry.

Animal Stories

Jean’s two animal stories ‘Rufus The New Forest Pony’ and ‘Sherry the Autobiography of a Springer Spaniel’ are partly set in Scotland. These are charming stories that appeal to children as well as animal lovers of all ages.


Jean’s last book “A Soaring Kite in a Savage Wind” is about Sun Yat-Sen’s role in starting the 1911 revolution and in establishing the Chinese constitution.  It also covers the involvement in China of the foreign powers who subsequently became protagonists in the First World War.

Jean also wrote ‘The Quality of Mercy’.  This is a fascinating biography of the lives of her grandparents Sir James and Lady Cantlie.  It includes a description of how Sir James established the Hong Kong Medical School with Sun Yat-Sen as his first pupil.


Jean was a passionate Scot and lived most of her life in Scotland.  In ‘Pine Trees and the Sky’ she wrote about the Cairngorms, where she lived with her son Hugh. In ‘Why Devolution?’ she wrote about political matters affecting her beloved Scotland.


Jean was a teacher for many years and used her experience to produce ‘The Writing on the Blackboard’ which takes the reader inside the classroom to see education in British schools up close. Jean was also a qualified barrister and when asked to teach mining law at Kirkcaldy Technical College and, discovering there was no set text, she wrote the definitive book on the subject! – ‘History and Practice and Practice of the Law of Mines and Minerals’ is the result.


Jean read Byron at a very early age, influenced by her elder brother who was also doing so.  Consequently, poetry became a lifelong passion.  One of Jean’s favourite authors was James Elroy Flecker, whose life was sadly cut short in 1915 when he died as a result of consumption.  Selected Poems of James Elroy Flecker is a collection of selected poems with a detailed introduction by Jean.


Jean’s father was Admiral Sir Colin Cantlie who captained a submarine in the First World War and ran Rosyth naval dockyard during the Second and, Jean was often at the dinner table in company with guests, many of whom walk out of the pages of naval history as heroes. In her book ‘The Sea Our Heritage’ the rise and decline of Britain as a leading maritime nation is described in detail and Jean explains why Royal and Merchant Navies are vitally important to the safety and prosperity of the United Kingdom.

Our Books