‘A Room of Our Own’ for Women’s Book Collection in Penzance

Photo from the Judith Cook Archive, part of the Elizabeth Treffry Collection

An important collection of books and papers about and by women in Cornwall has finally found a home at Penzance’s Morrab Library.

In 2012 a campaign called “A room of our own” – inspired by Virginia Woolf’s seminal feminist essay – was launched to find a new permanent home for the Elizabeth Treffry Collection on Women in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. Now, just over six years later, this diverse collection of books and papers has finally found a permanent public home at the Morrab Library.

The collection was gifted by the Hypatia Trust, a Penzance-based charity dedicated to recording and supporting the work and achievements of women internationally.

Dr Tehmina Goskar, Heritage Lead for the Hypatia Trust said:

“This move has been a long time coming. Echoing the struggles many women face to have their achievements recognised, recorded and valued, I am both relieved and delighted at the Morrab Library’s offer to be the place where the only collection dedicated to Cornish women will reside. And what a year to do it, to mark the suffrage centenary – the possibilities for women’s studies and women’s heritage in Cornwall have gone up considerably.”

Maggi Livingstone, Melissa Hardie & Cora Buchanan of the Hypatia Trust

The collection of books, information boxes and archives covers a range of topics from Cornish women’s achievements to their literary triumphs.

It also includes works by women who have adopted Cornwall as their home or for whom the Duchy has been an inspiration. 

Lisa Di Tommaso, Head Librarian of the Morrab Library, said:

“We think the Morrab Library is a fitting permanent home for the collection. The library celebrates its 200th anniversary this year. It remains one of the last independent libraries in the UK, and with connections to Penzance’s late-18th century Ladies’ Book Club it is a very appropriate home for this unique collection of women’s writing.” 

In a room of its own that has been lovingly decorated and set up by the library’s staff and trustees, readers will be able to use the collection for research and inspiration from this autumn.

The Morrab Library is an independent subscription library situated in Morrab Gardens – historic sub-tropical gardens in the heart of Penzance.


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