January 7th John Harris (Birth)

John Harris FRHS (1820 – 1884) was born and raised in a tiny cottage on the outskirts of Camborne, in the hamlet of Bolenowe.  Harris started work as a surface worker at Dolcoath Mine at the age of ten and between the age of twelve and thirty-seven worked underground. 

Completely self-taught, through reading the works of Shakespeare, Milton and Byron, much of his early poetry was inspired by his experiences in the mine and the granitic landscape. Encouraged by the Vicar of  Treslothan (south of Camborne), the Reverend George Bull he published fifteen volumes of poetry and left Cornwall once only when, in 1864, he travelled to Stratford-upon-Avon to receive the Shakespeare Tercentenary Prize.

John Harris’ success permitted him to stop working as a miner in 1858 when he moved to Falmouth working as a ‘Town Missionary’ for the Scripture Readers’ Society which worked to spread the Gospel amongst the poorest in society. 

His life in Falmouth inspired much of his later works and enabled him to compare and contrast the poverty-stricken lives of those in the Camborne-Redruth area and the much wealthier port of Falmouth.

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