The Clarence Bicknell Centenary 2018.  


For those who know about Clarence Bicknell, especially in the area round Bordighera and the French-Italian Alps where they fall into the Mediterranean, he is a minor hero in the fields of archaeology, botany, art and idealism. Otherwise he is in some ways a forgotten man.  Does he deserve to be better known? Yes. There is a new generation of people who appreciate his work, and others who would do so if they were exposed to it.  In several different disciplines – his pioneer recording, cataloguing and publication of the prehistoric rock engravings of the Vallée des Merveilles, his drawings of the flowering plants of the Riviera, his creation of the Museo Bicknell in Bordighera, and his contribution to the international language Esperanto – he is well appreciated by experts. With the amount of enthusiasm from various quarters, now may be the time to make a push in promoting Clarence Bicknell as a creative spirit across all these disciplines… and the centenary of his death is a good opportunity.

This page is of course obselete but we leave it here on the web site as a record of what happened for the centenary…

Seminars, events and publications

The Clarence Bicknell Centenary initiative was launched in 2013 via this web-site, well in advance of the anniversary in 2018, to promote seminars, visits, publications and events in the years leading up to 2018, then a more concentrated programme in the year 2018 which will be accessible to a wider public. We invite experts in each area of Clarence’s activity to undertake new research, to publish new papers or to organise or participate in conferences. Here’s what’s going on:

1. Biography

The first full biography of Clarence Bicknell has been commissioned and will be published for 2018, hopefully in English, Italian and French versions. It is being researched and written by biographer Valerie Lester who wrote Phiz, The Man Who Drew Dickens [Chatto & Windus. London 2004] and Giambattista Bodoni: His Life and His World [David Godine, Boston 2015]. Valerie is descended from Phiz – Hablot Knight Browne – who was Clarence Bicknell’s cousin through his talented mother Lucinda Browne.

2. Movie

A pilot video of about 20 minutes – THERE IS NO GOD BUT NATURE : Clarence Bicknell” was shot by the French director Rémy Masséglia in June/July 2016 and will be available in late September 2016. There will be four versions, in English, French, Italian and Esperanto. You can view the trailer now at . The film revolves around the moment of revelation when Bicknell threw off his dog collar and devoted himself so successfully to botany, archaeology, Esperanto and other pursuits. The pilot is intended to show TV producers what the mountain landscape, flora, villages and Clarence Bicknell looked like, i.e. what there is to work with and to make it easier for the production company or broadcaster to sell the project internally or to partners and to secure the necessary funding. Whether or not a major TV company picks up the topic for a documentary, the 20-minute film will be available to museums, universities and on the web to give some sparkling exposure to Bicknell and his work.

3. Events

Interested organisations with appropriate facilities for seminars or conferences are invited to submit proposals for such events on the theme of Clarence Bicknell or aspects of his life and work.  It is hoped that organisers will able to host one or more such events in the years leading up to 2018, so that a substantial calendar can be developed over each of the next five years

Numerous organisations have in the past hosted events or seminars related to Clarence Bicknell or would be qualified to do so in the future:

  • Museo Bicknell, Istituto Internazionale di Studi Liguri, Bordighera
  • Ufficio Attività Culturali Bordighera
  • Istituto Internazionale di Studi Liguri, Genova
  • Musée de Cuneo
  • Musée des Merveilles, Tende
  • Maison de la Patrimoine, La Brigue
  • Association Patrimoine Traditions Brigasque
  • AMONT – Association Montagne et Patrimoine, Centre des Etudes Vésubiennes
  • Musée de Saorges
  • Conseil Général des Alpes-Maritimes
  • University of Nice
  • Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris
  • Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, Cambridge University
  • Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge
  • Federazione Esperantista Italiana
  • Esperanto Association of Britain
  • London Esperanto Club
  • L’Association Nationale Espéranto France
  • French Héritage
  • Vieilles Maisons Françaises
  • Association Montagne et Patrimoine, Centre des Etudes Vésubiennes (AMONT)
  • Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew & Edinburgh;
  • Royal Horticultural Society, London

It is hoped that each of these organisations, and others, will be able to contribute skills and resources to the development of a programme leading up to the Centenary.

4. Research and papers

Interested scholars, experts or others are invited to submit proposals for research into Clarence’s work with the objective of presenting the results at the seminars mentioned above and including them in one or more publications in the years up to 2018. The Clarence Bicknell Association will make efforts to get such research a) published and promoted in three languages, French, Italian and English for international distribution and b) featured in suitable conferences as they occur. In 2014 the University of Nottingham planned a multi-university consortium to undertake research into Clarence Bicknell and his work, but like the similar 2015 initiative of the University of Genoa, it did not get off the ground. Other groups of researchers have plans to undertake such research and are confident of getting funding.

5. Publications

Publishers and organisations with the appropriate means are invited to submit proposals for the publication of papers, articles or books concerning Clarence Bicknell in the period up to 2018. It is intended to select authors and editors to prepare a substantial book for publication in 2018 on the life and work of Clarence, with colour illustrations and text accessible to the general public; the publication of this book would be one of the key events of the Centenary. Marcus Bicknell will consider underwriting such a book by guaranteeing the difference between the income from sales and the cost of production.

6. Media

We would be grateful for ideas and support from those with contacts in the media (print, radio, television and web) who can help secure further coverage, especially in Italy, France and the UK, of Clarence Bicknell’s legacy.

7. The Clarence Bicknell Association

The Clarence Bicknell Centenary will be organised by the Clarence Bicknell Association, formed in 2013, in conjunction with Marcus Bicknell, Clarence’s great grand nephew. In any case we would be delighted to welcome you as a member of the association and you will find application forms and details on this web site. Select >Association >Membership. Please email Marcus Bicknell with enquiries or offers of support, at .

In each of these seven cases, please contact Marcus Bicknell with your suggestions and expectations initially by 31st May 2013. He and the Association will keep all parties informed of the response and the specific plans as they develop. Since there is growing interest in Clarence Bicknell in the United Kingdom, France and Italy, activities will be promoted and conducted in several countries, and as far as possible in English, French and Italian. However, the scope of the initiative is not limited to these countries, and participation is invited on a worldwide basis.