Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Holyer An Gof awards (Cornish Guardian article; 23rd July)

I recently had the good fortune to attend the latest Holyer an Gof award ceremony, which celebrated the rich tradition of producing books about Cornwall or with a Cornish theme.

The awards were created in 1996 by the Cornish Gorsedh. They were named in memory of Leonard Truran, whose bardic name was Holyer an Gof, which can be translated into English as “Follower of The Smith.” Len was a prominent Cornish nationalist and the Smith in question was St Keverne’s Michael Joseph An Gof who led the Cornish rebellion of 1497. 

A real bibliophile, Len was a schoolmaster who was at the heart of the Cornish movement for many decades and he latterly launched his own publishing imprint – Dyllansow Truran – which ensured that a great many Cornish books were published.

It is particularly heartening that there were over 100 entries for the recent Holyer an Gof awards (for books published in 2013).

I was at the event because my own effort – “Looking Back: Indian Queens Pit and St Enoder Parish” – was one of the short-listed titles in the booklets category.

The overall winner for 2013 was “Cornish Milestones: The development of Cornwall's roads in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries” by Ian Thompson, and published by Twelveheads Press. This astounding book is the culmination of over 25 years of detailed research by Ian and his supportive family, which the Cornwall Association of Local Historians described as “probably the most significant contribution to the history of Cornwall in the last decade or more ...”

Another significant winner was “All Cornwall Thunders at My Door: A Biography of Charles Causley” by Laurence Green and published by The Cornovia Press. It was awarded the Cornish Literary Guild’s salver and also won the fulsome praise of the Guild’s chairman Donald Rawe, who was a personal friend of the Launceston poet and playwright.

All in all, it was amazing to see the depth and diversity of the good quality publications that are being produced in or about Cornwall. The books covered history, mining, cookery, photography, literature, poetry and art; there were also books for children and in the Cornish language.

The choice of new publications is vast, so why not support a local author (or two) and treat yourselves to a few books.

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