Since 1967 book and ephemera collections related to women's literature and lives have been gathered through purchase and gift by the American born collector Dr Melissa Hardie-Budden. The growing collection required a home and in 1986 the Jamieson Library was built, named for Melissa's long-time friend and former tutor, the late Lucy Norna Jamieson.

In 1996, with shelves bowing, the Hypatia Trust was formed, its primary aim to maintain, develop and protect the collection now referred to generically as the Hypatia Collection, or as a classified group of sub-collections about women and their lives. The first ‘mother’ collection, and the largest, was gifted to Exeter University, Devon, at the personal invitation of Sir Geoffrey Holland, Vice-Chancellor at the end of that year. The Exeter Collection can be found here.

The Trust soon evolved to encompass many other strands including Hypatia Publications, art exhibitions and residential retreat for scholars etc. The major thrust of the organisation has been to build and distribute distinguished study collections, both general and specific, to augment the educational resources available to students and researchers globally, redressing the gender imbalance of the stories we accept as our ‘history’.


Over the years The Hypatia Trust has worked tirelessly to support women and women's achievements, so often overlooked. Some highlights include…

1997 The Elizabeth Treffry Cornish Collection was launched, initially constituting some 800 books and unpublished documents, on women in the history of Cornwall. Indexers Esme Stanford, Andrew Symons and Peter Waverley listed and researched the field. In 2012, Dr Tehmina Goskar accepted the challenge of becoming the Honorary Curator of a much enlarged Collection, and completed a professional audit of its holdings. Visit The Elizabeth Treffry Collection

From 2013-14 the Collection was the focus of a community-led project called History 51 and cataloguing continues to improve access online. The Tanner Trust has kindly supported this work.

1998 The late Dr Elspeth Pope and her husband, Professor Jim Holly, placed their rural estate, set on the wooded shores of Puget Sound in Washington state, into a linked not-for-profit trust in the name of ‘Hypatia-in-the-Woods’. This gift, both to the Hypatia Trust and to talented women everywhere, offers a purpose-built retreat, where women come for peace, solitude and creative periods to work on their art. In subsequent years many USA visitors have made their way to Cornwall to visit Hypatia and our websites are linked.

1999 The Hypatia Trust received a Millennium Award for information technology courses, introducing novice users and older people to computers in the West Cornwall area.

2000 A Millennium Award was received in 2000 for the Trust’s innovative exhibition ‘From Quill to Mouse’ telling the history of writing and printing.

Penzance 2000 The town and around, by Melissa Hardie is published by Penzance Town Council with Hypatia Publications. It is presented as a millennium gift to all pupils in West Cornwall schools. Visit the Hypatia Book Shop

2002 Hypatia’s House, Penzance

Melissa and husband Philip Budden purchase the historic Trevelyan House, Chapel Street, Penzance, Cornwall, UK. After concentrated restoration and renovation, it served (until 2014) as a meeting place and study centre and gave the growing Elizabeth Treffry Cornish Collection a new home. Sponsored events were lectures, exhibitions, dining rooms and community events as well as small business start-ups for women entrepreneurs.


The West Cornwall Art Archive (WCAA) was developed in order to preserve documents of the area’s artistic community. WCAA includes small collections of art catalogues, invitations, news cuttings and history of the Newlyn Art Gallery, etc. In 2008 this collection was handed on, with endowment funds, to the Newlyn Archive where volunteers make it accessible to the public.

The Trust publishes the first full-blown history of the women who worked in the mining industry of the southwest counties of Cornwall and West Devon, researched and written by the Rev Lynne Mayers. Not only a complete sell-out, the book proceeds to be the overall prize-winner of the Holyer-an-Gof book awards, presented by the Cornish Gorsedd in its annual award ceremony of 2005.

2006 The Land Girls Project, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and local funders, documented the lives and work of the women who were in The Land Army in Cornwall during World War II. The project resulted in the successful publication Digging for Memories, the recording of interviews together with an award-winning film produced by Barbara Santi. Prime movers in this project were Angie Butler and Diana Ayres, both long-time Hypatia associates. Visit the Hypatia Book Shop

2007 Donations: University librarian and Hypatia Trustee, Doreen Pinfold, arranged the donation of some 600 volumes on women’s literature and feminist theory to the new University established in Cornwall at the Tremough campus, Falmouth.

The history of the American woman (Wagner Collection) was shipped to Bonn, Germany, for the University’s North American Studies Programme.

2008-9 After four years of concentrated research the WCAA publish ‘Art in Newlyn and West Cornwall’, available through or visit:'s. homepage. A Dictionary and Sourcebook (2009) with Art Dictionaries Ltd of Bristol.

The Trust launches a new book, the work of co-authors, Deirdre Dare and Melissa Hardie, A Passion for Nature, 19th Century Naturalism in the Circle of Charles Alexander Johns. Visit the Hypatia Book Shop

Summer 2009 - Melissa Hardie is invited to deliver a lecture on the publications and life of Charles A Johns, in the Chelsea Physic Gardens’ series celebrating the bi-centennial of the birth of Charles Darwin. Her paper is available to download on on-line.

2010 The Trust publishes Even in this Place, 19th century Nonconformists & Life in the Borough of Penzance, by the Rev John Horner, formerly Minister of the Chapel Street Methodist chapel. It becomes the sectional winner of the Holyer-an-Gof prize for history.

Based on the art dictionary (2008), the Cornwall Artists’ Index (CAI) is digitally launched, and remains actively on-line to this day. The editorial team are all dedicated volunteers.

2012-13 The Hypatia Trust is awarded a £10,000 Heritage Lottery Grant to further the project, ‘History 51’ in the All Our Stories Programme. Led by Tehmina Goskar and her creative voluntary team, themed workshops on women and their occupational histories are held county-wide.

2013-14 Melissa Hardie is awarded the Daphne Carrick Scholarship by the Brontë Society, and takes up a two-year research grant to study the maternal relations (from Cornwall) of the famous authors.

2014 A partnership with the Friends of the Morrab Gardens proposes a new learning centre in the public gardens of Penzance, where Hypatia offices and reading rooms will offer botanical and horticultural projects to all comers. Much fundraising and restoration work will be required to make this vision come alive. See Hypatia In the Gardens on research & projects page.

2015 A large English Language and History Collection is gifted to the Autonoma University of Barcelona, Spain.

The Hypatia Crime Collection (true & fictional, by women) is donated to the Penryn campus of Falmouth University, for use by creative writers in their course work.

The Trust is part-sponsoring the National Maritime Museum in their autumn exhibition on the theme of Mermaids.

Polly Attwood, a member of the Hypatia Directors Circle, has bravely undertaken a sky-dive to raise funds for her two favoured charities, the Hypatia Trust and the Concord-Carlisle Human Rights Council in New England, USA.

She becomes the first individual donor to the re-building fund for the Trust’s offices and reading rooms in the Morrab Gardens, Penzance.

Read about Polly's sky-dive in the Hypatia Trust News


Hypatia was born in Alexandria around 355 AD, her early learning concentrated on mathematics and astronomy. She edited and annotated works by such authors as Diophantus and Ptolemy and is credited with some early advances concerning the projection of the sphere and making scientific instruments.

Her circle of colleagues and followers formed a community based on neo-Platonic systems of thought and intellectual ties. Through private teaching and public lectures, her fame was such that she became the natural advisor on current issues far and wide.

Hypatia was regarded as a model of ethical courage, righteousness, veracity, civic devotion and intellectual prowess. 

Over time her moral authority and political influence as well as her friendly alliance with the Prefect of Alexandria, Orestes, made her a threat to the Christian patriarch Cyril. Within the larger political upheavals of 415AD, she was assassinated.

Discover more about Hypatia: WIKIPEDIA, SMITHSONIAN & BRITANNICA