About

The Bibliotheca Cornubiensis Femina is a biographic and bibliographic catalogue created to accompany the Elizabeth Treffry Collection on Women in Cornwall, held currently as a reference collection at the Morrab Library in Penzance.

The website takes its name from the Bibliotheca Cornubiensis (1874-1882), a three volume catalogue of the writings of Cornishmen and women up until the late nineteenth century. Collated by George Clement Boase and William Prideaux Courtney, less than 10% of the entries in the Bibliotheca were women. This is not unusual for the period, yet it speaks to a broader problem with our own understandings of regional and national history: the exclusion of the rich and varied lives and works of women. This project is a restorative, aiming to return women’s lives and achievements from the historical margins to the centre. This question of marginality is also acute in the Cornish context, where Cornwall’s distinctive histories have been undervalued. Against the understanding of rurality as static and traditional and against devaluations of the history of marginalised groups, we hope to emphasise the richness and mobility of women’s lives in Cornwall across time. 

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The collection has a large emphasis on published textual works by women, which is replicated here. In this, there is a bias towards women have had the ability to write and, further, to be published and towards women whose lives have been historically well documented. We hope to begin to correct this y confronting gaps and silences in the historical records along the intersections of ethnicity and sexuality as well as gender. This will mean continuing to add to the profiles and drawing out more thematic approaches including those related to race, LGBTQ communities, and Cornwall’s connections to migration, slavery, and the British empire. We aim to bring as much information as possible together in one place and make it free and fully accessible, highlighting the lives and works of women and enriching the knowledge of Cornwall and its connections with other contexts across regional, national, and international borders. We welcome suggestions and further information to add to the site. 

Like the original Bibliotheca Cornubiensis, the purpose of the website is also to catalogue and share collections of books, papers, and archive material related to women in Cornwall, starting with the collections developed or currently held by The Hypatia Trust. On the website you can search a partial catalogue of books and papers in the Elizabeth Treffry Collection and browse archival material held by the Hypatia Trust. The Elizabeth Treffry Collection was donated to the Morrab Library by the Hypatia Trust in 2018. The Elizabeth Treffry Collection itself has not yet been fully catalogued; this website is a sister project based on the collection rather than a fully digitised catalogued of the holdings of the Morrab Library. The collections of the Hypatia Trust are held at the main office in Penzance, Cornwall. Whilst the Trust has developed collections of many aspects of women's lives and works, listed on this site are holdings directly related to women in Cornwall. Get in touch via the ‘Contact Us’ form for further information.

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This project is part of The Hypatia Trust, a UK educational charity committed to documenting and uplifting women’s lives and achievements today and across time. Founded by Melissa Hardie-Budden in 1996, its primary focus is on the documentation of women's lives through the collection of literary, scientific, and artistic records, as well as the exhibition of women's arts and crafts and the publication of related fiction and non-fiction texts. 

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The original conceptualisation and research for the site was done by Melissa Hardie-Budden, followed by further research and development by Rozen Whitworth. The website was built by Nick Harpley. With thanks to the Q Fund (Cornwall Council), Cyprus Well Literature Development Fund (2010-2011), the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Tanner Trust, the Hypatia Research Fund and Azook CIC.