We have a range of resources relating to Cornwall with particular strengths in printed books, periodicals, newspapers, and maps (and the photographs and other visual images contained within them). Manuscripts, sound and archived websites of Cornish interest are also held and Cornish themes can also be researched using our extensive Electronic Resources.
View near Foie [i.e. Fowey] in Cornwall by Francis James Sarjent, 1811; British Library shelfmark: Ktop IX
The subject range held by the Library is immense: from literary and historical interest to modern-day business and social science information. Cornish language items form part of the collections.
Printed works published in Cornwall and held by the Library go back to the 17th century and go right up to the modern day where they are received comprehensively by Legal Deposit.
Initial access to the collections is through the home page Search.
More detailed searches can be conducted in Explore the British Library and other specialist Catalogues and through the many research journals and databases contained within Reading Room Electronic Resources. Within Electronic Resources is the full-text searchable British Newspapers 1600-1900 database, with many references to Cornish activities and also including the fully searchable Trewman's Exeter Flying Post or Plymouth and Cornish Advertiser digitised from 1807 to 1900.
A large number of individual journal articles are also available via the charged service British Library Direct.
Cornish-Latin glossary. Shelfmark: Cotton Vespasian A. XIV.
Historical and literary manuscripts in Cornish or relating to various aspects of Cornwall are held within the Manuscripts Collections.
One highlight is a 12th-century Cornish-Latin glossary, perhaps the oldest complete text in the Cornish language (British Library shelfmark: Cotton Vespasian A. XIV).
The British Library has a particular association with the Cornish language revival in that the Cornish scholar and activist Henry Jenner worked in the 1870s as an assistant in the Department of Manuscripts at the Library’s predecessor organisation, the British Museum Library. There he further developed his knowledge of Cornish language manuscripts.
John Norden’s survey of Cornwall of 1607, of which the Maps Collections have a modern facsimile, contains some information about Cornish place-names and the Ordnance Surveyors’ Drawings for Cornwall and Wales may provide information about Cornish in the early nineteenth century.
A number of Cornwall-related recordings are held including 124 interviews of speakers based in Cornwall, recorded as part of the BBC Local Radio Series, The Century Speaks, recording in 1998 and 1999 (British Library Sound Archive shelfmark C900).
There are interviews with eleven Cornwall-based subject in the Survey of English Dialects, recorded between 1952 and 1974 (C908). Five further Cornwall interviews, from the BBC Voices series of 2004/5, specially focus on language and dialect (C1190).
For the Cornish language itself there is the Kroeder Kroghen five-programme series produced by BBC Radio Cornwall in 1988 (C428). Cornish language songs are also held.
A significant institution for Cornish sound is the Cornish Audio Visual Archive at the Institute of Cornish Studies at the Cornwall Campus of the University of Exeter, Penryn.
Cornwall-related websites have been archived by the British Library as part of its Web Collections. This growing collection can be accessed online from the UK Web Archive. Readers can nominate further sites for inclusion.
Many images from the collections have been digitised and are available through Images Online (search, for instance, by place-name).