Borrowed from the Morrab

Borrowed from the Morrab

Every month, we plan to bring you a round-up, so that those who aren’t on Facebook can enjoy them too.

We always enjoy working with libraries, and the Morrab Library – in Morrab Gardens – has been a regular venue for our LitFest workshops over the past few years.

As some of you will have seen on Facebook, we are working with the Library to feature books with a Litfest link. These might be favourites of supporters or team members, or might be written by (or about) contributors, or might link to our theme for the year (2019, Borders: 2020, watch this space)

Here is our round-up for October

Sybil – Benjamin Disraeli

“A few years ago, my book group decided to read ‘Sybil or Two Nations’ by Benjamin Disraeli. It was first published in 1845 and was born out of Disraeli’s concern for the terrible conditions in which many working class people lived. It’s a roman à thèse – a novel with a thesis and Disraeli thought that it was important to tell people in the introduction that he was not exaggerating the deprivation he depicted within its pages.

“I wondered if the Morrab Library had a copy and the catalogue indicated there was one. We searched and eventually we found a three volume, leather bound edition tucked away on a top shelf. It was a first edition published by Henry Colburn in 1845. Clearly no one had borrowed it for many years although the pages were cut and it had definitely been read. Someone many years ago had thought this little book was important enough to add to the Library collection. The lives of many people in West Cornwall in 1845 were unbelievably tough and I hope those who read this particular copy of ‘Sybil’ in 1845 could relate it to the poverty they would have seen every day.

“It was a privilege to hold in my hands a book so freighted with history. At the book group meeting everyone else had modern paperback copies. I had an original. If you want to read it too – go on. It’s still there.”

Sybil, ready and waiting for its next reader


Folk in Cornwall – Rupert White

Bright elusive butterfly?

“Subtitled ‘Music and Musicians of the Sixties Revival’, this book is essentially the recollections of some of those who were active on the Cornish folk scene back then and complimented by the memories of friends and relatives of pivotal characters who are no longer with us. It’s interesting to note that at least three of the people mentioned in this book took part in the 2019 Penzance Literary Festival. In addition Brenda Wootton, a giant of the Cornish folk scene and beyond, is featured in the book and, coincidentally, her daughter talked about the biography she wrote of her mother at the same festival.

“The book is also about the clubs and venues – many of which have now disappeared. Times have certainly changed but the folk singers and singer-songwriters still populate pubs, clubs, festivals and open mic events across Cornwall.


“Another interesting element of the book is the so-called ‘beatnik threat’ which ruffled lots of feathers locally although in reality the beats we more into jazz. The folkies had longhair, didn’t have much money, often wore sandals and looked scruffy – and so, according to some of the local values of the time, they were a threat.

“This book is a taster – for the full menu, other books are available. Let us know your favourites!”


And finally…this one just speaks for itself.

We love the Morrab Library – and we also love the Acorn Bar. Cheers!

100 years ago – a ‘deplorable continuing stream of women in and out of the public houses.’ Some things never change…

If you would like to contribute to this feature and our Facebook page, please send us a message – info@pzlitfest.co.uk.