The Penzance-based Hypatia Trust has launched a new website on women in Cornwall. The first of its kind, the Bibliotheca Cornubiensis Femina (Library of Cornish Women) hosts 615 profiles of notable women, past and present, and over 1000 of their unique works.
The Bibliotheca Cornubiensis Femina (BCF) brings women’s lives and achievements from the margins to the centre of Cornish history. Though by no means a definitive list of women in Cornwall, it is a landmark moment in Cornish heritage. Against devaluations of the rural as static and traditional, and of the history of marginalised groups as overly narrow, the website emphasises the richness of women’s lives in Cornwall across time. It highlights little known women and works, setting famous authors such as Virginia Woolf alongside less recognised figures like Emily Hobhouse. Born near Liskeard, Hobhouse was a welfare campaigner and pacifist, known for bringing concentration camps set up by the British in South Africa to the attention of the British public in the early 1900s.
The Hypatia Trust was founded in 1996 by the late Melissa Hardie-Budden. For 25 years, its joint aims have been to empower women and to research, publish, and exhibit their often overlooked lives and achievements. Created by the Hypatia Team and website designer Nick Harpley, the Bibliotheca Cornubiensis Femina has brought online a portion of the works and women included in the Elizabeth Treffry Collection on Women in Cornwall, housed at the Morrab Library, Penzance. The next phase of the project includes working with volunteers, outreach to local communities, as well as broadening the scope of the site, prioritising Cornish histories across the intersections of ethnicity and sexuality, as well as gender.
Rozen Whitworth, Collections Lead at the Hypatia Trust, said “The Bibliotheca Cornubiensis Femina will be a phenomenal resource for schools and communities in Cornwall, as well as for writers, researchers, and other curious individuals. At a moment where funding for regional heritage is precarious, the website brings together a huge amount of previously-scattered information on Cornwall’s heritage and makes it accessible online, for free”.
If you’re interested in finding out more about the project, there will be a celebratory inaugural event held at the Hypatia Trust on Friday 2 September from 6pm-7.30pm. Project lead, Rozen Whitworth, will introduce the project, followed by a talk from Hypatia Trust’s archivist, Maggi Livingstone, on some key women from the collections including Marian Andrews and Litz Pisk. There will also be a chance to ask questions about the project.
Tickets are £3 and may be booked via the Hypatia Trust.