'Brenda - For the Love of Cornwall'

by Sue Ellery-Hill in 

'Brenda - For the Love of Cornwall'
We did it
On 29th August 2018 we successfully raised £4,140 with 90 supporters in 35 days

To publish a biography of legendary Cornish singer Brenda Wootton, copiously illustrated, with her full life story, timeline and other lists

by Sue Ellery-Hill in

The Life & Times of Cornwall's First Lady of Song

Who was she?

Local author Mike Sagar-Fenton has described Brenda Wootton as “probably the most famous Cornish woman in the world”. From the 1960s through to the 1990s, she was known throughout the Cornish diaspora as The Voice of Cornwall, and she took her love of her country wherever she travelled.

However, not so much is known about Brenda the woman – and given the full life she led, quite apart from her global career, there is much of interest to be discovered. Her Newlyn childhood provides a wonderful picture of Cornish village life in the 1930s and the war years, her deep involvement in local theatre and pantomime in the 1950s and 60s set the stage for her future career, and her work with her brother Peter Ellery at Tremaen Pottery in the 1960s and 70s, together with her own oil painting talents, demonstrated her connection with the local arts scene.

It is some 24 years since Brenda left us, but her legacy is as strong as ever, and while her recordings are available, there will always be new fans and old friends listening in awe to that magical voice and enjoying the songs, especially those written for her by Cornish bard, Richard Gendall. All the details of her recordings can be found on my Brenda Wootton website, www.brendawootton.org

What will the funding be spent on?

Some 3 years ago I was persuaded that, as her daughter, I should be the one to write her biography – others had tried and failed – big lady, big subject – big commitment! This is the result – a big biography, loaded with photos, and sprinkled with personal anecdotes and reminiscences from many who knew and worked with her. The book will be a laminated paperback, probably about 450 pages, illustrated throughout the text with colour and black and white photos of Brenda's life, and printed by a Cornish company in Padstow. There is an extensive Appendix section, including a Timeline of Brenda's life, lists of accompanists, guests of Pipers Folk Club, details of all the drama productions she was involved in, a discography and more. 

Right at the start of Brenda's singing career in 1968, at the Count House, she 'crowdfunded' the Piper's Folk LP. It feels particularly appropriate to be doing the same thing now for her biography, exactly 50 years later. You can help to be a part of this great story by making a donation or a pledge, and claiming your reward. Whatever funding we raise will be used to print and promote the book - and we are hopeful it should be launched in time for Christmas - although there are no guarantees!

Thanks so much!!

Sue Ellery-Hill

Here are the incentives on offer for the larger rewards...

Choice of 4 small framed posters:

Pipers Folk artwork; Large Brenda Poster; Tremaen lamps (NB! the LARGER lampbase is already claimed!):

Peter Ellery framed abstract screenprints; framed Brenda painting:

Final comment from Mike Sagar-Fenton

"...in Cornwall she was simply Brenda from Penzance - one of us, doing rather well overseas. Unknown to us she could regularly fill the most prestigious halls in capitals all over Europe, meet and perform with the major stars of the day, shake hands with presidents and royalty, and conquer all she met with her music and supercharged personality.

She however never forgot her roots. On the contrary she made a point of putting Cornwall and its heritage front and centre of all her recordings and performances, fulfilling a self-made promise to include some items in the Cornish language at every concert she played...

A proper biography of Brenda is well overdue. Others have tried to encapsulate such a wide-ranging story, pin down her complex and extraordinary character, but all have failed, myself included. I’m now so grateful that we did, because only Sue, her daughter, has the full story, the memory, the detail, and the courage to tell it as it was. Sue was long in denial that she had the talent to write this book, but the blood-line of engaging conversational story-telling, passed down from Brenda, her grandfather Angus and who knows how many other generations, runs sweet and true in her. It is a terrific story, beautifully and movingly told, and will give pleasure to the thousands who fell under Brenda’s spell and thousands more who were never lucky enough to know her."


a) How will I receive my Reward?

The digital download and vouchers for the Brenda shop will be sent by email.

Physical rewards will be sent by post around the time of the book launch (hopefully early December), unless you would prefer to attend the Launch event and collect in person; the larger prizes (lamp-bases, screenprints, Brenda painting) we would prefer to hand over at the Launch, but if this is not possible, we will post. The Brenda's Cornwall Tour rewards we will arrange after discussion to happen at a mutually convenient time.

b) Which countries can you ship rewards to?

Postage of rewards by Hermes in the UK is included in the Reward cost, but we can ship to anywhere in the world for an additional payment of the difference between UK postage and that for your country, payable at Checkout. Items requiring no postage will need no further shipping charge. You will need to add in the relevant shipping cost (below) appropriate to your country into the 'Pledge More' box on the Checkout page (NB: Don't forget, if you are in the UK, there is NO extra shipping charge!):

a) Europe (includes Rep. of Ireland)

b) World Zone 1 (inc USA, Canada, South America, Africa, Asia)

c) World Zone 2 (inc Australia & New Zealand)

  • Book only .......................................................  a) £3.96 b) £6.89 c) £6.54
  • Book + small Framed Brenda Poster .... a) £3.50 b) £16.94 c) £20.44
  • Book + Pipers Folk Artwork .................... a) £3.50 b) £11.53 c) £12.78
  • Book + large rolled Brenda Poster ........a) £2.63 b) £7.86 c) £8.21
  • Book + Tremaen Lamp-base ................... a) £5.16 b)13.83 c) £17.68
  • Book + Newlyn Screenprint ................... a) £3.50 b) £16.94 c) £20.44
  • Book + Brenda Painting ........................... a) £5.16 b) £23.23 c) £28.68

c) How will you use my data?

You will be asked at Checkout regarding email permissions in line with the new GDPR Regulations. Please do consider allowing us permission to use your email address if you'd like to be kept in touch with developments - we may send you information about selected news items, or future projects, which could include further CDs of Brenda's music, as well as a series of Brenda Wootton Song Books. We promise not to spam you, or to pass your details on to a third party... Thanks!

d) Can I pledge more than once?

If there are 2 or more options you'd like to go for, or if you'd like more than 1 copy of the book, feel free!

e) What will happen in the case of a shortfall, or to any extra funds raised?

If we are lucky enough to receive more than our stated aim, the difference will be used to further promote the book, and the balance will go towards a reprint if we feel it is justified. If there is a shortfall, we will have to make up the difference, or go for a smaller print run - but we'd prefer not to have to if possible! We will also be looking for Corporate sponsorship from a Cornish company...

f)  More questions?

Get in touch via my email sueellery-hill@brendawootton.org



This project offers rewards in return for your donation.

£18 or more

43 of 300 claimed

A. PRE-ORDER for 10% off + free postage

Pre-order your copy of the 'Brenda - For the Love of Cornwall' book, for £18 - around 10% off the selling price of £19.95. Despatch on publication day with free postage to a UK address (if international, you can add the postage on the Checkout page - see table at foot of main page) + B + invitation to the Launch event (tba)

£10 or more

B. Pasty Recipe Reward

Free download of a .pdf file of Brenda's pasty recipe (can be printed at home)

£40 or more

20 of 50 claimed

C. PRE-ORDER & become a Subscriber

Your name is added to the Subscriber list inside every book, and your own personally-signed copy will be posted to you + B + invitation to the Launch event (tba)

£70 or more

0 of 21 claimed

Choice of framed Brenda Poster

Your choice of 1 of 4 different Brenda posters, framed - 3 are 23.4" x 16.5", the Theatre de la Ville is 19" x 13"; (first come first served, varying numbers available) + C + invitation to launch event (tba). Can be posted or collected at launch event.

£85 or more

3 of 20 claimed

Pipers Folk LP Artwork Print Reward

Limited edition print (maximum 20) of alternative original artwork (unused) by Peter Ellery for Pipers Folk LP + C; (will be posted)

£100 or more

0 of 1 claimed

Original Brenda Large Poster Reward

Brenda Wootton original large poster from Theatre de la Ville + C; (will be posted rolled in a tube, separately from your book, or can be collected at the Launch event)

£100 or more

0 of 5 claimed

Voucher for £20 on Brenda website Reward

Voucher for £20 to spend on the Brenda website + C (voucher can be downloaded as .pdf)

£150 or more

0 of 5 claimed

Voucher for £40 on Brenda website Reward

Voucher for £40 to spend on the Brenda website + C (voucher can be downloaded as .pdf)

£200 or more

0 of 2 claimed

Brenda's Cornwall Tour Reward

Guided tour for 2 people around Brenda’s favourite local landmarks and cream tea for 2, with the author + C

£250 or more

1 of 2 claimed

Tremaen Pottery Lampbase & Shade Reward

Tremaen Pottery lamp-bases, 2 available; larger one without shade, smaller one with shade (first come, first served) + C, to be presented at Launch event (tba)

£350 or more

1 of 2 claimed

Peter Ellery Newlyn Screenprint Reward

Original framed litho screenprints of Newlyn - abstract by Peter Ellery, 2 options available, first come first served - to be presented at launch event (tba) + C

£500 or more

0 of 1 claimed

Brenda Oil Painting Reward

Original framed 16” x 12” oil painting by Brenda of Boswarthen Lane, Newbridge, to be presented at launch event (tba) + C

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