A Song For Valda Trevlyn
Valda Trevlyn was a Cornish poet, suffragette, and political activist. She was born in Bude and moved to London in her twenties where she met and married Christopher Grieve, an established poet better known under his pen name of Hugh McDiarmid. They married in 1932 and McDiarmid published two poems in her honour: “Cornish heroic song for Valda Trevlyn” and “Once in a Cornish Garden”.[i]
In the 1940s, the couple’s Scottish Nationalism and left-wing views found them included in George Orwell’s “list of dangerous people” and brought them to the attention of MI5[ii] . To find the freedom and creative space they needed, the couple first moved to the Shetland Isles and eventually to Brownsbank Cottage in Lanarkshire which was loaned to them by a sympathetic farmer. Hugh McDiarmid died in 1978 and Valda in 1989.
After her Valda’s death there was a campaign to renovate Brownsbank cottage and create a museum dedicated to them. In 1991 John Bolitho of Bude collaborated with two other Cornish musicians, Bill Headon and Lorna West to organise a concert supporting this campaign.
Some songs from the Concert
The White Rose
A further 4 songs sung by John Bolitho were composed by Lorna West who also accompanied him on piano. We do not have full details of these songs.
Lorna West 1
Lorna West 2
Lorna West 3
Lorna West 4
We are grateful to John Bolitho’s wife Heather, and family for donating these recordings to the Cornish National Music Archive and providing us with the background to it.
[i] Hugh McDiarmid, Cornish heroic song for Valda Trevlyn and Once in a Cornish garden republished by Lodenek Press of Padstow in 1977.