UoE student & a director of Penryn Press Piers Henrique reading to pupils from Kennall Vale School, Cornwall

Cornish myths inspire new children's book produced by student-led university press

Did You Know There Are Dragons in Cornwall? Is the title of a new children’s book recently published by Penryn Press a brand new publishing house created by students from the University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus in Cornwall.

The book is a collection of children’s stories and poems that step into a world of Cornish myth and adventure, where people chase fairies, meet knights and princesses and try to tame dragons. Did You Know There Are Dragons in Cornwall? aims to bring age-old ideas to life for young and old alike. Literature that reflects the history and environment of Cornwall is a major focus for Penryn Press, which seeks to uncover and publish new writers in the South West.

Piers Henriques, a third year English student and the Marketing Director at Penryn Press, said:“Did You Know There Are Dragons in Cornwall? marks the beginning of our ambition to find exciting new talent that reflects Cornish folklore and history. We find the legends of Cornwall and environment around us inspiring. We know there are so many stories waiting to be written and published by talented writers across the literary community of the South West.”

Penryn Press is a publishing company that was set up and run exclusively by students at the University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus, supported by the Annual Fund. There are five directors who serve a one-year tenure, after which the baton is passed to the next group of student directors.

Antonia Coppen, the University of Exeter’s Curriculum and Work Related Learning Officer at the Penryn Campus, explained the development of the Penryn Press:“The original aims of the initiative were to help students gain the practical experience and commercial awareness necessary for a career in publishing. However it has achieved this and so much more due to the vision of these students; establishing a closer link with Cornwall and providing a legacy for future students at the Penryn Campus. These students are inspirational role models for the University of Exeter.  It has been a pleasure to have supported their journey from undergraduate student into young professionals with all the qualities and skills that any employer would desire.”

She added:“The students who have participated in this new initiative have created something special and unique for the Penryn Campus. I can hardly believe that they only formed as a board of directors last October. As anyone who has started a business or new venture will know, the time, effort and sheer determination required to make it a success is considerable and these students have accomplished this, in addition to their studies.”

Production and Editorial Director of Penryn Press, Rachel Singleton said: "This short story collection is a fantastic way for Penryn Press to break into the publishing industry. Quick, witty and imaginative, the collection will plunge readers into a world of Cornish fantasy, chasing dragons and fairies to their heart's content." 

Tom Coles, a recent graduate from the University of Exeter, set his story Vibrancy of Spirit around the tin mines of Cornwall. Tom said: “Having studied in Cornwall for three years, I was particularly drawn to areas in its recent past such as the abandoned gunpowder works. Cornish myth is rich without being grandiose or bombastic. My story refers to a myth where goblins fear human noise, which I have modernised with the intention of keeping it warm, though the ending is rather dark.”

Following the successful book launch at the National Maritime Museum, Cornwall, the publishers are currently negotiating a sizeable order from Cornwall libraries to cover Key Stage 2 in schools and Cornish literature sections across the county. Did You Know There Are Dragons in Cornwall? is available to order online and will be in selected bookshops across Cornwall, priced £8.99.


Date: 6 June 2014

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