Nellie Sloggett 1850-1923

Nellie (Ellen) Sloggett  was an author and folklorist who wrote under the names Enys Tregarthen and Nellie Cornwall.

Ellen was the only child of Moses Sloggett (b. 1820, St Minver) and Sarah Carter (b. 1825, Newquay) who married in Padstow on 5 Dec 1848. She was born on 29 December 1850. Her father, a sailor was not present during the 1851 census, and Sarah lived in Duke Street, Padstow with her mother and sister.

Her father died on 29 June 1857, and Sarah worked as a charwoman, and took in two nieces. They still lived in Duke Street in 1861.

Then, according to one report, at ‘scarcely 16’, i.e. early 1867, Nellie suffered a devastating spinal illness. By 1871 she was noted in the census as a ‘cripple spinal disease’ and she was paralysed for the rest of her life. By that time Sarah and Ellen had moved in with Sarah’s sister Lavinia, wife of a master mariner living in Cross Street. It is possible that Ellen told stories to her younger cousins.

What Katy Did, the popular children's book by Susan Coolidge (Sarah Chauncey Woolsey) was published in 1872. Katy lived in a waterside town, lost one parent, had young relatives and was dependent on an Aunt. The similarity of her situation to that of Katy Carr cannot have been lost on Nellie. Like Katy, Nellie was a student in the ‘school of pain.’ Unlike Katy, Nellie did not recover.

Nellie began to keep diaries about flowers, the changing seasons, and birds and other creatures, all observed from her bedside window.

By 1881 the two families had moved to Marine Villa where Lavinia’s husband settled down as a ship builder. There Ellen wrote her first book, Daddy Longlegs, and His White Heath Flower, under the pen-name Nellie Cornwall. Nellie’s mother Sarah died in 1894. Ellen probably remained at Marine Villa until about 1905 when it was sold by Captain Charles Rawle to James Guy, his son in law.

Latterly she devoted much of her attention to Cornish folklore and legend. She collected and recorded many stories about the Piskey folk, fairies of Cornish myth and legend. She published her works in this category under her better-known pen-name of Enys Tregarthen. They were The Piskey Purse: Legends and Tales of North Cornwall (London, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., Ltd. 1905), North Cornwall Fairies and Legends (London, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., Ltd., 1906) and The House of the Sleeping Winds and Other Stories (London, 1911)

Before 1911 Ellen went to stay with her cousin Lavinia (Williams) in Tregonna, Little Petherick.

From a date after 1911 until her death in late 1923 Nellie had a room at 32 Dennis Road, Padstow, home of her unmarried cousin Alice Rawle.

In 1938 an American writer Elizabeth Yates met “Miss R” (probably Alice Rawle) who told her of Nellie’s work, showed her Nellie’s room, and her trunk of unpublished material. Yates edited this material for publication as Piskey Folk: A Book of Cornish Legends (1940), The Doll Who Came Alive (1940) and The White Ring (1949).