Cornish Book Collection

Cornish books, booklets and pamphlets form a large part of the Cornish Studies Library's (CSL) collections.    

They include:

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  • Books which give an account of some aspect of Cornwall's past, present or future, and cover a wide range of topics, including bibliography, business and  biology, engineering, emigration and ecology, politics, piracy and poetry, folklore, fiction and freemasonry, transport, telecommunications, and Tudors, and much more.  
  • Books about or written by Cornish people or people living in Cornwall, many of whom made their names outside of Cornwall, or were noted in fields which had little to do with their origins. They are collected for their biographical and bibliographical interest.  
  • Fiction and non-fiction, by Cornish writers and writers who have made a home in Cornwall.          
  • Books published in Cornwall which otherwise have no association with it. They are collected mainly for their bibliographical interest and form a lesser part of the collection.

All are included in the Cornwall Library catalogue.

Four notable collections form part of the CSL's book collection:

Dr Joseph Hambly Rowe, born at Hayle in 1870, became a General Practitioner in Yorkshire. He maintained a lifelong interest in Cornwall, becoming one of the first Cornish bards in 1928, taking the name Tolzethan. After his death in 1937 his fine library returned to Cornwall when it was acquired by Edmund Hambly of Treharrock.  

It subsequently found its permanent home in Redruth when the collection of some 2000 volumes and hundreds of pamphlets, many rare and valuable, was acquired for the former Redruth Public Library by the efforts of C J Langman, the Chief Librarian from 1948-1969, with an agreement that it remains in the Camborne-Redruth area.

Ashley Rowe was born in London in 1883. His mother was Cornish and Rowe became a well-known and respected local historian living at Mount Hawke. He was made a bard of the Cornish Gorseth in 1933, taking the name Menhyryon. He was widely known as a writer and lecturer, and contributed to the West Briton's weekly "Cornish Men and Matters" column for over 25 years.

His library was purchased by the former Cornwall County Library following his death in 1965. It consists of about 800 volumes and a considerable number of pamphlets.

Kenneth Hamilton Jenkin was born in Redruth in 1900 and had a distinguished career as a historian with a particular interest in Cornish mining, publishing "The Cornish Miner", now a classic, in 1927. He was a founder of the Cornish Gorseth taking the name Lef Stenoryon. 

The collection includes a decent set of the 'Mining Journal' (complete from 1835 to 1932 and 1964 to 2000) which is very useful for Cornish mining history research. It also includes a complete set of the Mining Magazine (from 1909 to 2000), which, together with books and pamphlets, was presented in 1966, with further additions shortly before Rowe's death in 1980.  

A plaque to accompany the collection said: "The books... formed part of the private collection of A K Hamilton Jenkin MA, B.Litt, FSA, of Trewirgie House, Redruth, the home of the Jenkin family since 1770 and were presented by him to the Redruth Library as a memorial to the long association of his family with the life of Cornwall. 1966." Hamilton Jenkin was later given an honorary doctorate by the University of Exeter.

This collection was also acquired for the former Redruth Public Library by CJ Langman.

The CMHA collection was deposited at the former Redruth Public Library in 1964. It includes an impressive collection of Wesleyan Methodist Magazines, Bible Christian Magazines and Minutes of the Methodist Conference as well as journals from Primitive and United Methodists, and numerous books and pamphlets. This collection is not included in the Cornwall Library Service's online catalogue. It is complemented by the large Methodist book stock (which is included in the catalogue) and growing collection of modern Methodist magazines being accumulated by the CSL.