Myrtles playday

More news from Mesdames Myrtles rug hookers, History 51 contributors.

Our 'playday' on Friday was really fruitful.

Talking, using different media, letting ideas flow freely, drinking tea and eating cake allowed us to finally make a decision on our communal project, which is great.

It will be fairly large hooked pieces, possibly with some embroidery, depicting Cornish women's occupations, starting with Alice De Lisle [Yes, yes, yes! Ed].

Our individual projects seemed to come together too...more about these at a later date, but one of them involves eggs, dressing up,and following in someone's footsteps...!

Mesdames Myrtles rug hooking group of Penzance discuss representing Cornish women's history (credit: Diane Cox)


Inspired by Cornish women's history (credit: Diane Cox)

Mesdames Myrtles, Penzance (rug) hookers

An example of Myrtles rughooking work (credit: Diane Cox)

Guest blog post by rug hooker, Diane Cox, History 51 Contributor

The Mesdames Myrtles hooking group has been together for many years in different hooking groups, but formed 2 years ago as a small group who wanted to stretch ourselves creatively and have unusual projects on the go! We spent an afternoon throwing names around and the Myrtles just seemed to fit! We are all in the Penzance area.

After the initial meeting at the Hypatia Trust we met to discuss how we would approach a visual response to acknowledging unsung Cornish women.We had a great afternoon chatting,but it became obvious that we all had differing ideas,and so the decisions made afterwards visit Helston museum to get a feeling and a sense of ordinary women's lives,and that the whole subject was so enormous that the project wouldn't be as easy as we initially thought !

Yesterday we had our visit,and were so impressed by the museum..a real gem!

Over lunch we threw ideas about,and it seems right that we do one communal project,with the option of each of us,should we wish,responding with other more personal pieces.

We all agreed on 2 things...we wanted to emphasise the hard work and sometimes sheer drudgery of domestic work over the centuries,with the aim of showing how women have held everything together,and that we need to simplify our ideas for them to be effective in a textile work.

Work by Diane Cox

We realised that a written piece and a piece that is purely an image have to be approached totally differently!

So,we are having a creative day next week to play with ideas and hopefully end the day with the beginnings of our communal piece!

View a gallery of Diane's rug hooking work

[Thank you Diane and Mesdames Myrtles for your guest post, we can't wait to hear more about your progress! Ed]

West Cornish library retreat

Letter from Roo Gunzi

The Jamieson Library has been both a vital resource and a home-from-home over the past year. My ongoing PhD work into Stanhope Forbes’s early paintings has meant frequent and often extended periods in Penzance undertaking archival research at local galleries, libraries, and archive centres. As a self-contained rural abode, the Library accommodation and book-filled workspace offers the seclusion and tranquility required for study, and is well-placed for access to all sites of local artistic and historic interest.

Given the almost prohibitive cost of holiday lodgings during summer months, the Jamieson exists as a valuable, alternative, and realistic option for students wishing to reside in Cornwall for short-term study. I have found the experience, both of staying at the Library and being immersed in the Cornish landscape, both invaluable and liberating. It has given me the freedom to be able to work, as well as see and explore West Penwith at my leisure.

The Jamieson Library of Women's History is a scholar's paradise situated in the village of Newmill a few miles north of Penzance. Visits can be arranged by appointment through the Hypatia Trust and the library is also open to residential scholars.

For enquiries:

The Old Post Office, Newmill, Penzance, Cornwall, TR20 8XN Tel: 01736-360549 Fax: 01736-330704 email:

In search of Mrs Craik

Letter from Jane Inman

Mrs Dinah Maria Craik was my Great Great Grandmother but until recently I knew very little about her. Almost the full extent of my knowledge was that she had penned John Halifax, Gentleman and has a memorial in Tewkesbury Abbey. Knowing my love of Cornwall and my connection with Mrs Craik, my daughter bought me a copy of An Unsentimental journey through Cornwall re-published by the Jamieson Library in 1988. Investigating the Library I stumbled across the collection of Mrs Craik’s works held there and determined to discover more.

In May we holidayed further west than usual and my family and I spent a very special afternoon, dipping into the remarkable collection secured by Melissa Hardie and the Hypatia Trust. We shared what we had learned about Mrs Craik’s extraordinary life, viewed the books, letters and articles and talked of ways to raise the profile of her much over-looked work.

Dinah Maria Mulock, otherwise known as Mrs Craik, best known as author of John Halifax, Gentleman (1856) also published a fascinating, no nonsense travelogue called An Unsentimental Journey Through Cornwall in 1884. This book was reprinted by the Hypatia Trust as it deserves to be better known. Her mid-19th century insights as a traveller in Cornwall is full of gritty observation and intelligent wit.