The Hypatia Trust teams up with Wikimedia in landmark initiative.

Ever heard of Litz Pisk? Try searching for her on Wikipedia - "The page Litz Pisk does not exist." 

Born in Vienna 1909, and died St Ives, Cornwall 1997, Litz is widely regarded as the finest and most influential teacher of modern theatre movement, sadly she is one of the very many great women currently not listed on Wikipedia - however thanks to a partnership between The Hypatia Trust and Wikimedia UK all that's about to change... 

The Hypatia Trust teams up with Wikimedia UK in landmark initiative:

The Hypatia Trust and Wikimedia UK announces a brand new partnership today. Hypatia and Wikimedia UK will work together on a project to rebalance the English-language Wikipedia by training new editors in writing and editing biographical articles on Cornwall and Scilly’s great women.

The Hypatia Trust has appointed Dr. Tehmina Goskar, museum consultant and historian, as its first Wikimedian in Residence to coordinate the project and act as an ambassador for promoting free and open access to information and knowledge on women and Cornwall.

Based in the Hypatia Trust’s Elizabeth Treffry Reading Room in Krowji, Redruth, Tehmina will assemble a team of new editors, create a list of women who are currently underrepresented on Wikipedia and provide access to Hypatia’s special collection of over 3000 books and articles on women’s lives, works and achievements.

Wikipedia is the sixth most visited website in the world (after Google, YouTube, Facebook, Baidu and Yahoo) and considered to be one of the most influential sources of information in the world. However the encyclopaedia suffers from significant underrepresentation of women both as editors and as the subject of articles.

Worryingly, of nearly 1.5 million biographies only 16.6% are of women whereas women make up 51% of the population. And nearly all the biographies of people before 1900 are of men.

Women are also poorly represented in the editorship of Wikipedia with most articles are written by men, and dominating its policies on categorisation, notability and referencing. Women are thought to comprise less than 17% of editors on the English-language Wikipedia.

This project will meet one of Wikimedia UK’s strategic goals of addressing inequality in Wikimedia projects, with a particular focus on the gender gap and geographical bias. The charity will be supporting this project by providing advice and training to support the residency and a new network of editors.

Tehmina Goskar, Wikimedian in Residence, says: “This is just the beginning of a landmark project to redress the imbalance of male-dominated narratives of Cornwall and Cornishness. It is the result of two internationally-minded organisations who have the common aim to improve humanity’s access to knowledge—especially that of the poorly represented.”

Daria Cybulska, Head of Programmes and Evaluation, says: “As the national chapter for the global Wikimedia movement we believe that open access to knowledge is a fundamental right, and a driver for social and economic development. We are delighted to be working with the Hypatia Trust on this important project, which feeds into our overall commitment of increasing online coverage of diverse cultures, heritage and history. We are hoping that we will be able to draw parallels between this initiative and our other projects on Welsh and Scots Gaelic heritage.” Listen to Tehmina talk to Julie Skentelbery about the project on BBC Radio Cornwall, Tehm features at 38 minutes in. 

Litz Pisk

Litz Pisk

Wikipedia and the under-representation of women…

Wikipedia is the sixth most visited website in the world (after Google, YouTube, Facebook, Baidu and Yahoo).  The single-most concerning factor in Wikipedia’s success is the gross under-representation of women both as writers and as subjects of articles.  Worryingly, of over 1,445,021 biographies only 15.5% are of women – 15.5%?  But we’re 51% of the population! Plus nearly all the biographies of people before 1900 are of men.

And, just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse for women on Wikipedia…. Most of the articles are written by men, including imposing policies for categorisation, notability and referencing.  Women are thought to comprise 8.5-16.1% of editors on the English-language Wikipedia.  Wikipedia recognise this disparity too: Wikipedia:WikiProject_Women% 27s_History

Team Hypatia To The Rescue…..

Appointed as the Hypatia Trust's first Wikipedian-in-Residence, Dr Tehmina Goskar (museum consultant, historian and long time friend of the HT) with the help of a small network of researchers are rebalancing Wikipedia by writing and editing biographical articles of Cornwall and Scilly’s great women.  Utilizing the Hypatia Trust’s Elizabeth Treffry Collection (over 3000 books and articles by and about women in Cornwall & the Isles of Scilly) Tehmina and the researchers will aim to reinvigorate the collection and raise the global profile of its subjects.

Tehmina says, "I have been a long time advocate of free and open access to knowledge especially in the fight against inequality and in pursuit of better diversity in how we write about our heritage. As Wikipedian-in-Residence I will be creating a hit-list of women in Cornwall who are currently not represented or poorly represented on the English-language Wikipedia. This will not only address the gross bias against female subjects on the world's free encyclopedia, but also redress the gender imbalance in the representation of Cornish history, culture and literature."

We will be featuring these biographies as part of our Hypatia Women: Cornwall campaign so keep an eye on our social media pages for more coming soon.

Hypatia Trust Facebook


Hypatia Trust Twitter

Hypatia Chairwoman, Veronica Janas, remembered by Melissa Hardie...

Amongst Veronica’s many philanthropic and community activities, she always made valuable thinking time and many other contributions to first the founding, and then the continuation of the Hypatia Trust.  With headquarters in Penzance, Cornwall, UK, the Trust is an educational charity that encourages and supports women and girls in achieving the highest goals that they wish to set – in arts, crafts, health and community activities.

Veronica’s great skills as both a manager and organisational developer meant that shortly after meeting the book collector, Melissa Hardie-Budden at a Women’s Network Regional Meeting in the 1980s, she suggested a lunchtime meeting between Melissa and husband Philip together with Ludwig at a Somerset pub.  Based on their shared interests in reading, learning and futures for young women – Veronica and Melissa each have two daughters making their way in the world - they proceeded to build up ideas for a positive community-based forum.  This would follow in the footsteps of the 4th century philosopher, Hypatia of Alexandria – so important for her scientific, humanitarian and egalitarian teachings.

When a Trustee board was set up in 1996 and charity registration effected, Veronica became the first Chairman of the Trust. She was present when the first Hypatia Collection was gifted to Exeter University. She and daughter Nic also accompanied the Buddens to Washington state where we visited Elspeth Pope and her wonderful residential retreat, Hypatia in the Woods, named in tribute to our own. Her natural good sense, her wry sense of humour, and her strong belief in the objectives we have followed throughout, have kept us on track throughout her long tenure.  We even had hopes that she would be able to retire within shouting distance of us here in Cornwall.  Her talents as a textile artist are legendary.  But above all else she was a friend in a million.

Veronica's funeral will be held in Bathealton Friday 29th July. 

From Left to right:  Nicola Janas, Veronica Janas, Elspeth Pope, Melissa Hardie on a group visit to Hypatia-in-the-Woods, 1998, a residential retreat for women artists on Puget Sound, Washington, planning forward for our transatlantic partnership.

From Left to right:  Nicola Janas, Veronica Janas, Elspeth Pope, Melissa Hardie on a group visit to Hypatia-in-the-Woods, 1998, a residential retreat for women artists on Puget Sound, Washington, planning forward for our transatlantic partnership.

Thank you!

Thank you!

Thank you! Huge thanks to everyone who supported our pop-up-shop and auctions.  Working together with the Friends Of Morrab Gardens we have raised £7,500 all of which goes towards the renovation of the stables in Morrab Gardens. This dilapidated and unused building will be turned in to a horticultural and botanical learning centre open to everyone. Don't worry if you didn't make it to the shop we have lots more to auction (especially art) and are planning an arts and crafts exhibition and sale later in the summer when our new offices are up and running. Or if you'd like support the project by making a donation you can do so here. Find out more about Hypatia-in-the-Gardens here

Read More

Hypatia Trust Crime Collection Receives New Home...

The Hypatia Trust Crime Collection - 1000 books on crime, written by or about women including Agatha ChristiePD James and Jessica Mann - was presented to Falmouth University by University Librarian and Hypatia Trustee Doreen Pinfold.   This collection now sits in Falmouth University Library at the Penryn Campus and is accessible to all, see here for further details.


'The History of Cornwall is eerily male in orientation, you do wonder where the women were.’


‘The history of Cornwall is eerily male in orientation, you do wonder where the women were.’

On International Women’s Day, The Hypatia Trust proudly launched The Elizabeth Treffry Reading Room at Krowji, Redruth, you can find lots of photographs on our Facebook page.

Dr Melissa Hardie, founder of the Hypatia Trust comments “The history of Cornwall is eerily male in orientation – you do wonder where the women were.  Historian Mary Ritter Beard stated ‘no documents, no history.’ The collection at Krowji focuses on Women’s lives and occupations, their writings and their artistic crafts. Here they are – and lots of them.”

In Cornwall, as true all over the world, the worthwhile achievements of women are often overlooked and even suppressed in oral and written histories.  This special collection will play an essential part in re-balancing narratives in Cornish and Scillonian history and literature by sharing the triumphs, stories and arts by women who have lived and worked in the county.

The reading room includes works by internationally acclaimed authors Daphne du Maurier, Helen Dunmore and Virginia Woolf and hundreds of the lesser known who should be found again.  It also highlights histories of great Cornish campaigning women such as Emily Hobhouse, Dora Russell, Judith Cook and many more.   The Hypatia Trust hopes that access to this important collection will provide young women and girls with inspiring role models whose lives were influenced by the place of Cornwall.

This fantastic resource, a unique body of over 3000 books and artefacts by and about women in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly is now open to everyone.

Housed at Krowji in Redruth, the reading room is accessible to all by appointment via Azook 01209 311070


Three good friends of Hypatia.

Apart from other tragedies of 2015 attracting global sorrow and tragedy, we are sad to report the deaths of three long-time friends of the Hypatia Trust – each a stalwart support amongst the many that both understand and work to carry out our educational and humanitarian objectives.

In her sensitive and loving obituary for Marion Whybrow (1931-2015), the novelist and poet Helen Dunmore presents a complete record of Marion’s work which will not be repeated here. Anyone reading the resume cannot fail to understand why we have valued her gifts – both her talents and her contributions to the Trust’s archives.  These take the form of many cuttings, manuscripts, photographs and of course, her published books, fiction and non-fiction. Apart from this, she was a loyal friend and participant in our book launches, art exhibitions and celebratory events over the many years at the Jamieson Library and Trevelyan House.  We will miss her gentle kindness greatly.

In mid-November came the death of author Eva Tucker (1929-2015), described in her Times obituary as a novelist and hostess of literary salons, is more fully biographically reviewed also in the Guardian. What a beautiful and charming woman! 

When the Trust moved its Elizabeth Treffry Collection on Women in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, from its original home at the Jamieson Library, Newmill, to Trevelyan House in Chapel Street, Penzance in 2002, we decided to celebrate with a literary salon.  Melissa Hardie was corresponding with Eva about the Trust’s collection of the work of Dorothy Richardson, who lived in Cornwall for many years while writing her 13-volume stream-of-consciousness novel, Pilgrimage. Eva offered to ‘launch’ our literary weekend with a talk as part of the festivities.  Her edited and expanded talk became the first publication from the new premises: · Tucker, Eva. Pilgrimage: The Enchanted Guest of Spring and Summer: Dorothy Richardson 1873-1954: a Reassessment of Her Life and Work. Penzance: Hypatia Press, 2003.

Attending Eva’s opener in 2002, were both Marion Whybrow, and our third close friend and supporter, Hilary Richings neé Scrope Shrapnell (1936-2015). Local to Newmill and the Jamieson Library, Hilary, acting as journalist to The Cornishman for our community, kept up with every event and activity that was mustered.  She was always our ACE (Aid Conservation through Education, for the building of Uganda’s schools charity) bookseller, eagerly counting up the proceeds from our annual Newmill Open Gardens Day. Very active with the Women’s Institute, she always saw that the local prize-winning local history projects as written up in bound volumes, made an extra copy for the Hypatia Trust. She pored for hours and days over the indexing of the history of the Newlyn Art Gallery when that was our 1995 Centennial book.  Wherever there was literary work to do, proof reading, and writing, she and husband Jack were there. She sat at the hub of the village of Newmill, and we all have loving memories of her.


Professional Archivist Rowan joins team Hypatia.

We are super excited to introduce Cornwall’s own Rowan Musser who has recently joined Team Hypatia. Rowan takes the position of lead archivist – an important role which will mark the Hypatia Trust's 20th year! Rowan will be responsible for archiving the correspondence, notebooks and original manuscripts in the Hypatia Trust collections so that these important documents about women and by women will be conserved and made accessible for future generations to enjoy.   Find out more about Rowan and the rest of the team here.


Just Published

A Special Issue of Brontë Studies (Volume 40, Number 4, November 2015) features as its opening article, the first formal publication stemming from Melissa Hardie-Budden’s current research into the maternal relations of the famed writers.  Entitled ‘Maternal Forebears of the Brontë Archive: “Nothing comes from Nothing”; or Stories from another Canon’ Melissa shares some of histories emerging as the Carne and Branwell families worked and lived in West Cornwall in the late 1700s and early 1800s.

Especially exciting is the formal launch of the Maternal Brontë Archive, just as the announcement is made (BBC and newspapers, 12 November 2015) of the finding of unpublished manuscripts by Charlotte Brontë inside a rare book that belonged to her mother.

Maria Carne Branwell, of Penzance, travelled to Yorkshire in 1812 at the age of 29, joining other Cornish relations who re-settled there in the same year. In meeting the Reverend Patrick Brontë, within her family’s professional circle, she sent for her belongings and married him. The literary remains of poet Henry Kirke White, as written by Robert Southey, was a volume amongst her books, and this has come to hand in the USA, where it has been in the same family for over 100 years, with a poem and a short story by Charlotte between the pages. The bicentenary of Charlotte’s birth will be celebrated in various forms in 2016, and the Hypatia Trust will hold its own related event on 21st April.

The Carne-Branwell family archive detailing key personages and cultural influences will be made available for study in future. It will take an important place in the Elizabeth Treffry Collection on Women in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

* Brontë Studies, Vol. 40 No. 4, November 2015, 269-75

Maney Publishing ISSN 1474-8932 (print) Online at

Hypatia Trust part funds creative writing course.


Creative writing course with Linda Cleary in Penzance.

Linda Cleary is a writer and tutor who has been delivering courses since 1991.  She is also the Literary Arts Coordinator for the Hypatia Trust who are part funding this course.  The course runs for four weeks on a Saturday at the Morrab Library, Penzance, Cornwall from 10.30-12.30pm starting Saturday 21st November.  See here for further details.

Mermaids: Women at Sea


The new autumn exhibition opening at the National Maritime Museum Cornwall on 14 September will explore the hidden histories of women at sea. 

Mermaids: Women at Sea will tell the compelling stories of women who have challenged the establishment and made their mark in a male dominated world. 

It will feature extraordinary women such as Mary Lang, who joined a crew on the last of the merchant sailing ships - known as windjammers - to journey from South Australia to Cornwall in the 1930s, and Dame Ellen MacArthur who blazed a trail for women in competitive sailing, assuring herself a place in sporting history as the fastest woman ever to circumnavigate the globe in 2005.

The Museum will also be revealing from its stores a very special boat that belonged to Dame Mary Russell, Duchess of Bedford, better known as the Flying Duchess, but who was also a keen canoeist. The boat, called Endsleigh after her favourite country estate on the River Tamar, is part of the Museum's National Small Boat Collection.

Through first-hand accounts, film, photography and artefacts the exhibition, which is supported by the Hypatia Trust, will bring these stories to life.

Tehmina Goskar, Senior Curator at the Maritime Museum, says: “Mermaids represents a key moment for the Maritime Museum as it develops its interpretation and presentation of maritime heritage in non-traditional areas of the field by publicly addressing the hidden histories of women sailors, not because they are women but because their stories are just as fascinating and stimulating as those of men and therefore worthy of preserving and presenting to our visitors.

There have always been superstitions about women and the sea, from the myths of mermaids luring unsuspecting men to a watery death to the ill fortune a woman aboard a ship was meant to have brought to a voyage and its male crew. One of Cornwall’s most famous legends is of course the Mermaid of Zennor, and visitors to the exhibition will be able to see and touch a 3D print of the famous mermaid carving in St Senara Church in Zennor—the first time the Maritime Museum has used this technology to present an exhibit to the public. 

We hope this replica of the 15th-century mermaid carving will capture the imagination of our visitors. Guests will also enjoy the legend being recited as part of a special film commissioned by the Maritime Museum from new local Cornish Community Interest Company, Storylines.

I am particularly pleased that the Hypatia Trust, based in Penzance, a charity which exists to promote the study of women, has chosen to generously support Mermaids. I hope that all visitors to this exhibition will leave knowing that the sea belongs to women as well as men and so does its history.”

Supporting the exhibition is a lecture on Wednesday 23 September at 6.30pm, called Enterprising Women. Dr Helen Doe will be sharing stories of feisty, strong willed women who defied the popular image of the genteel 19th century lady. Many played key roles in shipping management, running businesses such as sailmakers, shipbuilders and managing the day to day running of the ships themselves in an era when gender roles were becoming increasingly polarised. Tickets cost £7 and can be booked on 01326 214546.

Mermaids: Women at Sea opens on September 14 and runs until February 21 at the National Maritime Museum Cornwall in Falmouth.

National Maritime Museum Website

Ellen MacArthur image courtesy of DPPI.

Hypatia Skydive

Polly Attwood became the First individual donor to the campaign to open the next Hypatia Trust Study Centre in the stables of the municipal gardens in Penzance, Cornwall.

In September 2015, taking flight from Land’s End Airport, Hypatia international director Polly, with the skilled assistance of her ‘sky-daddy’ made a courageous skydive to raise funds for her two favourite human rights causes – the Concord-Carlisle Human Rights Council (Massachusetts, USA) and our own Hypatia Trust. To each she made a truly handsome donation of £500, and we are so grateful!  This will join the funds raised at our first corporate fundraiser hosted with the Friends of Morrab Gardens at Trevelyan House prior to Christmas 2014, when we raised an equivalent sum from our Doll Exhibition and sale.

More about this soon when the surveyors and architects have been chosen for the project. Meantime, thank you Polly for your heaven-sent donation, and all the friends of Polly who made her (very scary) jump worthwhile.