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Emmy's October Find: Treasures from Our Collection

Each month, Emmy - one of our volunteers on The Gardeners' House Penzance project - will be bringing us a fascinating insight into one of the pieces in our collection.

The Hypatia Trust, home to The Gardeners' House project, is home to an archive of over 2000 volumes documenting the natural history of Cornwall.

We'll be building on this archive to support the creation of new botanical collections and a rare plant registry - but for now, we're excited to bring you Emmy's Finds - a look into some of the great pieces in our collection.

Emmy’s Finds: Discoveries in the Gardener’s House Book Collection - October 2023

The Story of My Ruin, by Marion Cran

Marion Cran, FRHS, FRSA (1879-1942) is best known as a gardener, writer and broadcaster, the author of more than twenty books and countless articles on gardening and other subjects published between 1907 and her death in 1942. She was the first person to broadcast on gardening in Britain, beginning in the early 1920s with ‘Gardening’ and ‘Garden Chat’ and from 1927 was Honorary Treasurer and later Vice-Chairman of the National Gardens Guild, and founder of the Garden Club, Mayfair.

Emmy tells us:

"On first picking up The Story of My Ruin by Mrs Marion Cran, I assumed it was a Les Miserables or Tess of the d’Urbervilles type story – where a young girl is seduced by a scoundrel and ends up ostracised by her community. On the contrary, this book is a story of redemption, reflected in the touching dedication: “To Mother, whose love I never understood until my ruin taught me”.

The book begins with the author’s discovery, after a day’s house-hunting, on a “very lonely road” of a “sodden, tottering ruin”. When she returns for what she intends to be a final visit to the house and garden, it claims her heart and she resolves that “whatever I had of vision and of faith should breathe upon this ruin and strive for it, beauty should come again to it, and strength, and the sound of happy voices.”

In the rest of the book, the house and garden are restored (with photos) and the author experiences an equivalent regeneration.

This book is not so much Tess of the d’Urbervilles as a 1930s Grand Designs meets Eat Pray Love!"

We'll be bringing another blog from Emmy in November - if there's particular areas of interest you'd like us to feature, please do let us know on


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