News - MARVELS reviewed in Boston USA, event preview

Written by Marcus Bicknell on .

hingham aug2018 5384Review of MARVELS and preview of the USA book launch on September 12th... in the Hingham Journal, clearly one of Boston's leading, and best-informed, newspapers!

Hingham author Valerie Browne Lester’s recently-published biography about the life of the multi-talented botanist/archaeologist/artist Clarence Bicknell coincides with the 2018 centenary of his death, but it is also the captivating story of his remarkable life.

“Bicknell was absolutely charming, witty, and genial -- devoting his life to the enrichment of knowledge,” she said.

Hingham Public Library will host an “Evening with the Author” event Wednesday, Sept. 12, at 7 p.m., when Lester will present “Marvels: The Life of Clarence Bicknell,” featuring a film screening of a movie about Bicknell’s life introduced by his great-grand nephew -- London-based Marcus Bicknell. Both will be available to answer questions at the end of the presentation. Lester, who does much of her writing at the Hingham library, was in the United Kingdom in June for a similar launch of the book at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge University. She was born in England.

“I think Hingham Public Library and its programs are stellar,” she said. “I also love living in Hingham because of its proximity to the water, the beach, its historic architecture, and World’s End.”

hingham aug2018 5383Research ...

Lester spent five years researching Bicknell’s life, poring over hundreds of newly-discovered letters, diary entries, arts-and-crafts designs, and botanical watercolors in a number of archives, including the Fitzwilliam Museum, the Natural History Museum, Genoa University, and the Conservatoire Botanique in Geneva.

“Marcus had inherited lots and lots of material about Bicknell -- photos, sketchbooks, stories, and correspondence,” which were invaluable in her research, Lester said.

The book, which features more than 200 images (photographs and drawings), provides valuable insights into how and why Bicknell -- a product of the late-Victorian Enlightenment -- strove for perfection in every subject he tackled. He desired to understand the world and to express what it’s all about in a creative way. Bicknell’s time in Bordighera on the Italian Riviera and Casterino in the Maritime Alps near the Vallee des Merveilles, now in France, provides a compelling backdrop for the story of this life and achievements. Interestingly, after graduating in mathematics from Cambridge University, Bicknell decided to enter the Church of England to become a priest.

“After about 12 years in the church he lost his faith and moved to the Italian Riviera, where his religious energy was turned toward nature,” Lester said. “Then he became a botanist, and like so many Victorians, a list-maker.”

Thousands of watercolors ...

Bicknell went on to write two books about the flora of Liguria, “painting literally thousands of watercolors of flowers and also creating designs which he made into albums,” Lester said.

Then he started going to the mountains -- becoming an archaeologist and writing about the rock carvings he discovered there.

“Bicknell copied the carvings by doing rubbings and also wrote a definitive book about the rock carvings of the Maritime Alps,” she said.

Lester, an independent scholar, writer, and translator, is descended from Bicknell’s grandparents. She is also the author of “Fasten Your Seat Belts!”; “Heroism in the Pan Am Cabin,” (she is a former Pan Am stewardess); “Phiz, The Man Who Drew Dickens,” a biography of Hablot Knight Browne, Dickens’ main illustrator, who was also Bicknell’s uncle and Lester’s great-great-grandfather; as well as other books, poetry, plays, and articles -- with more to come!

“I always wrote letters, but I started writing seriously at the age of 40 -- poetry at first, then a couple of plays and an as-yet-unpublished novel that I’m still working on, the Pan Am book, and then I started writing biographies,” Lester recalled.

For the Bicknell biography, Marcus Bicknell assembled “Team Bicknell” composed of an amateur botanist, an archaeologist, a landscape architect, and an arts and crafts specialist.

“Marcus was the driving force and I was the principal writer,” Lester said. “They would all feed me information on their subjects and also material to incorporate into the book.”

Amazing discovery ...

For instance, the botanist discovered a cache of 690 letters in a botanical museum in Geneva written by Clarence to another botanist. The two men became friends over time. One of Lester’s favorite parts of writing a book is traveling to other countries to gather information. “I love doing research,” she said.

“Bicknell was quite a combination of talents,” according to Lester. Not only was he an archaeologist, botanist, and artist (sometimes his botanic art was tinged with whimsy), he was also an author, traveler, Anglican priest, humanist, philanthropist, and Esperantist. (Esperanto is constructed language based on roots from the main European languages, devised in the late 1880s as an international medium of communication.) “Clarence Bicknell was a man of peace, becoming an Esperantist shortly before World War I. He believed that people who spoke a common language would be less likely to wage war against each other.”

hingham aug2018 5386‘A wonderful book’ ...

Bruce Kennett, author of W.A. Dwiggins: A Life in Design” -- who recently introduced this fascinating book about the late longtime Hingham resident during an earlier “Evening with the Author” -- has high praises for “Marvels.” “Lester describes Bicknell’s active life in vivid detail, giving her readers a sense of his sweet disposition and drive to discover, and a good taste of the places and time in which he lived,” Kennett said in a review of the book. “In addition to the fine narrative, the book is filled with photographs and drawings that enrich the story. A wonderful book.”

Lester says she hopes readers of “Marvels” will have a “really pleasant armchair travel experience and come to understand the life of this talented Victorian bachelor. We know all the big Victorian names such as Darwin, but there are so many [unknown] people like Bicknell who led fascinating lives while contributing so much to the general [good],” Lester said. “Because he was wealthy he could lead a life devoted to the enrichment of knowledge.”

Copies of “Marvels” will be available for signing at the event and may also be purchased through Amazon and at, which commemorates the life and work of Bicknell.

“Clarence might be the forgotten genius of 19th-Century science, arts, and crafts,” the website states. “Our activities aim to put that right.”

News - MARVELS reviewed in Country Life

Written by Marcus Bicknell on .

country life review of marvels 15 august 2018The new biography of Clarence Bicknell, MARVELS, has been reviewed in Country Life this week. If you can't read it from the jpeg then it is here in a reformatted text form. Click here.

This is a great breakthrough in our efforts to get Clarence in front of a wider public; this is the first mass media coverage of his work. Coming on top of the four exhibitions still running (Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge; Wren Library, Trinity College, Cambridge; Musée des Merveilles, Tende, France; and Museo Bicknell, Bordighera, Italy) and the strong response to MARVELS the book, we can hereby declare the 2018 Clarence Bicknell Centenary ... A SUCCESS.


Buy your copy now from, from Amazon or from retailers.




country life 15 august 2018 cover

NEWS - Marvels, The Life of Clarence Bicknell - info sheets

Written by Marcus Bicknell on .

marvels front cover small

You might want to provide information about Valerie Lester's Marvels: The Life of Clarence Bicknell, Botanist, Archaeologist, Artist to a friend or contact. Here are two versions which you can download, forward as a link or print out:


One page info, pdf


Details, 5 pages, pdf


To copy the web link using your PC, right click on the link above and select "Copy Link Location"

NEWS - Clarence linked from the British Institute in Florence

Written by Marcus Bicknell on .

Florence British Institute website May 2017














Nice to see that our talks about Clarence and projections of the film leave a permanent trace in the world wide web. Here is a permanent web presence of our visit to the British Institute of Florence in May 2017. Even the film itself can be played from their web site...

NEWS - Clarence centenary exhibition in Bordighera on television

Written by Marcus Bicknell on .

Clck on this link to see the news video from Riviera Time:

A Bordighera Bicknell inedito per il centenario dalla scomparsa
Di Sara Alessandri - 2 agosto 2018

L’Istituto Internazionale di Studi Liguri ha curato una mostra per onorare il centenario dalla scomparsa di Clarence Bicknell, ricercatore lungimirante il quale, innamoratosi della Riviera, decise di trasferirsi a Bordighera per portare avanti un’immensa opera di catalogazione archeologica e botanica e fondare il primo polo museale della Liguria occidentale, un riferimento inestimabile ancora valido al giorno d’oggi.

L’importanza particolare di questa mostra è la presentazione al pubblico di un lotto di materiale inedito appartenuto a Bicknell, recuperato, non senza fatica, dal mercato antiquario nel quale era finito per circostanze poco chiare.

Numerose le fotografie e le lastre originali dell’epoca. Altrettanto numerosi gli appunti di viaggio e corrispondenze.

La mostra sarà aperta per tutto l’anno, fino alla conclusione ufficiale dell’anno bicknelliano prevista per il 7 gennaio 2019.

Thank you Daniela, from Marcus and Susie

In Clarence's Time - his trip to Ceylon in 1908

Written by Marcus Bicknell on .

We propose to publish occasional excerpts from Valerie Lester's wonderful biography of Clarence Bicknell. This will serve to increase Clarence's presence and "searchability" on the internet, and will give exposure to the book. Because of my recent contacts with the Peradeniya Garden in Kandy, Sri Lanka, the first such excerpt is about Clarence's trip with Luigi Pollini there in early 1908.

Click here to download the complete excerpt in pdf.

403 Peredeniya Ceylon garden laid out to please european tourists"Like everyone arriving in Ceylon, he was immediately struck by the magnificence and omnipresence of palm trees, commenting to Burnat that the Cocos nucifera everywhere were truly superb. After a week spent in Colombo and along the east coast of the island, Clarence and Luigi took the train to Kandy. In the first part of the journey, they travelled past paddy-fields, banana groves, palm forests and acres of waterlilies and lotus before beginning the climb up terraced hills, followed by ridge after ridge into the hill country. At last, the train entered a narrow gorge before it reached the final pass, and then, after all the uphill chugging and puffing, it ran merrily down into Kandy. From the station, Clarence and Luigi ascended a steep 100 feet to the town, where they had their first view of its lake and the famous Queen’s Hotel nestled on its shore. He expressed his delight to Burnat: ‘How wonderful it is to see Convolvulus and Thunbergia everywhere, and an infinity of plants that I know only in our greenhouses, and then ferns and Nymphaea [water lilies] . . . After a week we hope to climb the Pic d’Adam, visit the high, cold [hill station] Newera Ellya [Nuwara Eliya] and after that the ruins of ancient cities.’

"The Peradeniya Garden is vast, and fulfilled Clarence’s dreams of tropical vegetation: acres of towering bamboos, palms and yet more palms, banyans, spices, cataracts of allamandass and bignonias flowing down from the tallest trees, and wisteria winding their way up. The scientist in Clarence appreciated the research facilities and the experimental station and its leaf insect breeding programme.viii The director (and author), J.C. Willis, made every facility available to visiting men of science, including the herbarium with its competent curators and the library of botanical books and periodicals."

Click here to download the complete excerpt in pdf.

NEWS - comment on the Cambridge exhibitions

Written by Marcus Bicknell on .

independent turner societyClarence's exhibitions in Cambridge continue until late September. Catch them while you can.

In the latest newsletter of the Independent Turner Society, from Selby Whittingham..."Margaret Burr continues to expand her invaluable turnerintottenham site devoted to Turner's important patron B.G.Windus. Another important purchaser of late Turners was Elhanan Bicknell, a neighbour of the Ruskins and one of whose sons married a daughter of David Roberts RA. Peter Bicknell (to whom our late Vice-President Stanley Warburton wrote a warm tribute in Turner Society News in 1996) with Helen Guiterman published Roberts' very revealing memories of Turner's last years (still not fully absorbed by the Turner biographers). Another son, A. Sidney Bicknell, poured cold water on the idea of preserving Turner's Chelsea cottage (see my Mrs Booth of Margate).

"A third son of Elhanan was Clarence Bicknell, whose biography, Marvels, by Valerie Lester had its launch, which I attended, at the Fitzwilliam Museum on 20 June. This impressive and well-illustrated work has been instigated by the Clarence Bicknell Association masterminded by the nephew of Peter Bicknell, Marcus. Clarence was attracted to the Oxford Movement and ordained, but, for various reasons including the developments in biology and geology of the time, which had similar effects on John Ruskin and maybe also his friend William Kingsley, abandoned the church, though he remained of a more benign Christian disposition than exhibited by his brother Sidney. His legacy lies in the Museo Bicknell at Bordighera and the delightful watercolours he made of wild flowers, some of which are exhibited at the Fitzwilliam and his alma mater, Trinity College Cambridge till September 2018."

NEWS - Clarence's two exhibitions in Cambridge, 100 years on

Written by Marcus Bicknell on .

fitzwilliam floral fantasies1 june2018fitzwilliam floral fantasies2 june2018Clarence Bicknell features in two exhibitions in Cambridge which opened this week (5th June 2018). Both have been timed to join in the celebrations of his centenary. He died 17th July 1918 on the terrace of the Casa Fontanalba in the mountains 3000 feet up and 50kms from Bordighera. You can access the exhibitions more easily! The Fitzwilliam and Trinity are an easy walk, one from the other, down Kings Parade and Trinity Street. Do please make the effort to go now, before 4th July when the Trinity one closes.

Both exhibits feature albums by Clarence never before seen in public, from the Fitzwilliam's archive where they were rediscovered in 2016 (two photos, right) and from the Bicknell family collection.

Exhibition 1
Floral Fantasies, including Clarence Bicknell at the Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge
5 June - 9 September 2018

fitzwilliam floral fantasies3 june2018fitzwilliam floral fantasies4 june2018Susie and I (Marcus) were in Cambridge on Tuesday for the first day of THE EXHIBITIONS which we have been enthusiastically anticipating. Clarence Bicknell is honoured to be in such select company as Walter Crane whose two albums (photos, right) are alongside Clarence's. We are very pleased that Clarence's work, discovered in the Fitzwilliam archives, has such noble acknowledgement. We are grateful to Henrietta "Hettie" Ward, the curator of Floral Fantasies for her work on the exhibition and for showing us (and Georgie Kemsley-Pein of Varsity magazine) round the exhibits, photo below right.

fitzwilliam floral fantasies5 hettie june2018"The Fitzwilliam Museum’s exceptional collection of botanical watercolours and drawings depict an array of posies, bouquets and elaborate floral arrangements. Magnificent roses, hyacinths, magnolias, peonies, fuchsias and irises jostle for attention in the works of Gerard van Spaendonck (1746-1822) and Pierre-Joseph Redouté (1759-1840). The floral motifs seen in the designs and illustrations of Walter Crane (1845-1915) and Clarence Bicknell (1842-1918) similarly draw their inspiration from garden flowers as well as those found in the wild. A selection of Bicknell’s beautiful albums will be on display for the first time. Complemented by floral miniatures, jewellery, Sèvres porcelain and children’s books from the wider collection, the watercolours in this exhibition reveal how artists’ everlasting passion for fitzwilliam floral fantasies poster compressedflowers has manifested itself into a variety of creative forms.

Walter Crane's "A Floral Fantasy in an Old English Garden" can be seen in the photo above. Hettie Ward took part of this title as the title of the exhibition Floral Fantasy. Clarence owned books by Walter Crane ( and may of course been influenced by him. Or was Clarence ploughing his own furrow?

The Fitzwilliam Museum Trumpington Street Cambridge CB2 1RB
Free admission
Open: Tuesday – Saturday: 10.00 - 17.00, Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays: 12.00 – 17.00;
Closed: 24-26 & 31 December, 1 January, Good Friday"

On Wednesday 20th June 2018 there will be a screening of Marcus Bicknell’s short film (directed by Rémy Masséglia) The Marvels of Clarence Bicknell followed by a joint talk with Graham Avery, The Botanical Art of Clarence Bicknell. 1.15-2pm. Admission is free-of-charge, by token, one per person, available at the Courtyard Entrance desk on a first-come first-served basis from 12.45 on the day of the talk or from This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

On Wednesday 20th June 2018 at 11am Valerie Lester will present her MARVELS – The Life of Clarence Bicknell (Matador, 28th June 2018) in the Courtyard Café of the Fitzwilliam Museum. RSVP This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to be certain of your place. Books on sale in the shop.

For media enquires please contact the Fitzwilliam Museum Press Office: Emma Shaw | +44 (0) 1223 332941 | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Exhibition 2
A Botanical Watercolourist at Trinity: Clarence Bicknell. The Wren Library, Trinity College.
trinity college expo1 june 2018trinity college expo4 june 20185th June - 4th July 2018

Check opening hours at

A second exhibit opened in Cambridge on the same day, 5th June. The Wren Library of Trinity College, University of Cambridge (where Clarence was an undergraduate reading maths but thinking religion from 1861 to 1865), honours Clarence with a complete display case alongside extraordinary medieval parchment treasures and an exhibition of their "livres d'artiste" by Wilfredo Lam (1902-1982).

Catch this exhibit quickly because Clarence Bicknell is on for 4 weeks only, closing 4th July 2018.

trinity college expo2 june 2018trinity college expo3 june 2018The display features Clarence's "Book of Guests in Esperanto" and the "Children's Book of Wild Flowers" in their resplendent arts-and-crafts watercolour, and original plates from his "Flowering plants and ferns of the Riviera and neighbouring mountains" with in each case a whimsical kaleidoscopic version painted also by him but 30 years later. Many thanks to Dr Nicolas Bell, Librarian, Trinity College (and Syndic of the Fitzwilliam Museum), who had already discovered Clarence Bicknell and seen the film "The Marvels of Clarence Bicknell" on The Trinity exhibit promotes the Fitzwilliam Museum "Floral Fantasies" exhibition nicely.

trinity college expo5 bell june 2018Nicolas Bell's own blog is well-written and well-illustrated. Click on this link:

Nicolas is with me in the photo left, laying out the exhibits

trinity college expo6 susie june 2018Susie Bicknell admires her handiwork, photo, near right. She selected the exhibition items and wrote the text and captions in cooperation with Nicolas Bell. Very satisfying to see Clarence in such august surroundings.

NEWS - AGM of the Clarence Bicknell Association

Written by Marcus Bicknell on .

We hereby give notice that the Annual General Meeting of the Clarence Bicknell Association will be held on Friday 13th July 2018 at 11am in the Musée des Merveilles, Avenue du 15 Septembre 1947, Tende 06430 France courtesy of the museum's director Charles Turcat and the Département des Alpes-Maritimes.

This meeting is open to members and honorary members of the association. You can join at >association. The meeting will be in English but questions from the floor can be accepted and answered in French and Italian. The museum's exhibition "Les Merveilles de Clarence", jointly curated by Susie Bicknell, opens the same day and there will be visits hosted by one or more Bicknell at 14h30 and 16h00 on Friday 13 July 2018. See other events in our list at but note that the events organised by the Mairie de Tende 15,16,17 July remain unconfirmed.

This meeting is provided for in the statutes of the association which you can read at   Other relevant documents can be consulted on the same downloads page. The 2017 accounts will be posted before 13 July.

Please note that "Officers will normally serve a term of two years other than the Chairman who a) till the end of 2018 shall be a family relation of Clarence Bicknell and b) shall serve a term of four years. The Chairman may be reappointed for further terms." Marcus Bicknell (chairman), Susie Bicknell (secretary) and Graham Avery (vice-Chairman) have agreed to stand for a further term (4 years in the case of the Chairman and 2 years in the case of other officers (statutes III.4).

Proxy votes...

The only decisions known in advance are the re-elections of officers (committee members). If you are a member and would like to vote by email please send your vote to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. naming the officers for whom you would like to vote. The present committee is:

Chairman  Marcus Bicknell   Clarence relation, researcher, member of the board of SES in Luxembourg till April 2018 and of other companies in media and technology. Student of all things Clarence and webmaster. Based northwest of London, UK
Vice-Chairman  Graham Avery   Senior Member of St. Antony’s College, Oxford University, and Honorary Director-General of the European Commission, Brussels. His interests include archaeology, mountain-walking, botany, researching and writing on those topics. Based Oxford
Treasurer  Geoff Bicknell   Chartered accountant and international business man. From January 2015
Secretary  Susie Bicknell   Writer, researcher. Based northwest of London, UK
Committee member  Christopher Chippindale  Archaeologist, writer, researcher. Based Cambridge
Committee member  Valerie Browne Lester  Clarence relation, writer, researcher. Based near Boston USA.
Committee member  Maria Pia Luly-Jones  Nature artist, based Bordighera
Committee member  Helen Blanc-Francard  Writer, researcher, garden expert. Based north of Paris.
Committee member  Titus Bicknell  Exhibitions, conferences, new media professional, Washington DC. From January 2015.

If you would like to stand, to propose a candidate or to propose an item for the agenda, please email or phone us.

13 juillet 2018. Tende: 11h Assemblée Générale de l'Association Clarence Bicknell, ouverte aux membres, en anglais, dans la salle des conférences du Musée des Merveilles. Tende: Ouverture de l'exposition Les Merveilles de Clarence au Musée des Merveilles, Tende (jusqu'à la fin septembre). 14h30 et 16h00: Tours guidés “Un Moment Avec Bicknell” assurés par la famille Bicknell (Org Musée des Merveilles).



Marcus Bicknell, Chairman

Association Clarence Bicknell
Clarence Bicknell Association
Associazione Clarence BicknellCBA logo

Homefarm Orchard, Kirby Close, Threehouseholds, Chalfont St Giles, Bucks HP8 4FF, UK
phone 01494 872751 - mobile 07748 111444 - Skype mbicknell


Chateau de Castellaras, 333 Allée du Domaine, Mouans-Sartoux,  06370 France


NEWS - Emile Burnat - the Film

Written by Marcus Bicknell on .

Il Sentero delle Orchidee CassetteIn 1997 the Museo Nazionale della Montagna of the Club Alpino Italiano produced a documentary film in Italian on Clarence Bicknell's friend, the Swiss botanist Emile Burnat entitled Il sentiero delle orchidee - Emile Burnat in Valle Pesio. You can now view the film at

The film opens with Burnat at the age of 80 reminiscing about his botanical exploits in the mountains, and continues with a series of flashbacks to episodes of his life. Burnat says he has never found the rare orchid Cypripedium calceolus, which is seen in close-up at the beginning and end of the film. Burnat laments that it is ‘a flower found only by Bicknell, about which I dream’. It was in 1899 that Clarence Bicknell found the plant in Val di Pesio, and wrote to Burnat about it. Then in 1912 Burnat found it himself near Certosa di Pesio. Later it was considered extinct in Val di Pesio until finally it was rediscovered in 1992, thanks to Bicknell’s letter to Burnat describing where he found it.

emile burnat

Read the comments of Graham Avery, whom we thank for his contribution, and a summary of the film at Emile Burnat - the Film

RESEARCH - Cima Bicknell: its name and its whereabouts

Written by Marcus Bicknell on .

cima bicknell card I quote from Valerie Lester’s new biography MARVELS: The Life of Clarence Bicknell, Botanist, Archaeologist, Artist;

“On 5 May 1908, Clarence told Emile Burnat that Fritz Mader had named a peak above Val Fontanalba ‘Cima Bicknell’ in his honour. In 1908 Fritz Mader published in the Rivista Mensile of the Club Alpino Italiano an article describing his excursions in the Maritime Alps in 1906; these included finding a minor summit of about 2,600 m. above Val Fontanalba, which he decided to name after Clarence Bicknell ‘who with much patience for several years has explored, copied and illustrated the many prehistoric rock inscriptions in the surrounding area.’ Situated between Mont St Marie and Mont Bégo, at 2,600 metres, the little peak was, according to Clarence ‘très peu de chose’, commenting to Burnat: ‘I believe (between you and me) that it’s hardly worthy of a name, and will not render me more illustrious, but at least I’m happy that you’re not the only one in the Maritime Alps to have your own peak."

Graham Avery wrote on 26th March 2018 to M. Jean-Félix Gandioli as follows. M. Gandioli is Attaché Scientifique au Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle de Nice and is mounting an exhibition in October 2018 entitled "Botanistes et Alpinistes dans les Alpes maritimes entre les deux siècles". There is also a link between the subjects of the exhibition (Antoine Risso, Justin Montolivo, Jean-Baptiste Barla, Emile Burnat, Clarence Bicknell) in that they each have an alpine mountain named after them.

    "Bonjour M. Gandioli.

    "Mon ami Marcus Bicknell m’a demandé de répondre à votre question concernant l’origine du nom de montagne ‘Cime Bicknell’. Ci-joint un extrait de l’article publié par Fritz Mader dans la Rivista Mensile du Club Alpino Italiano en 1908 dans lequel il relate une excursion dans le Val Fontanalba en septembre 1907 suite à laquelle il a donné le nom de Bicknell a une cime entre la Baisse de Fontanalba et le Mont Sainte Marie. A noter qu’à cette époque la région du Val Fontanalba faisait partie du territoire italien, donc à l’origine c’était Cima Bicknell.

    Cordialement, Graham Avery"

Download a copy of Fritz Mader's article in la Rivista Mensile du Club Alpino Italiano 1908 in pdf form here:


Note from Marcus Bicknell, editor, 27 March 2018...       

I also show here the postcard of the Cima Bicknell with Clarence Bicknell's writing on it. He identifies the mountain as "Cima Bicknell 2686m. He goes on to relate in excited style (as a p.s. to whatever is written on the other side, not available to us) the arrival of "Olivo" or "Olivio" and the hunt for a rock engraving called "The Baby" which he had not been able to find for 10 years. Olivio is not a name which I can find in Valerie Lester's biography of Clarence, on Wikipedia, or on If you know who Olivio could be please contact us.Part of what I can decypher from Clarence's hand writing reads "Cousins all gone. Deo Gratis. We are very well and busy and happy". I wonder which cousins he was glad to see the back of. And who was the card addressed to?

Photo copyright © 2018 The Estate of Clarence Bicknell, Marcus Bicknell and the Bicknell family collection.



Note from Marcus Bicknell, editor, 28 May 2018...    

In preparing the proposed hike up the Cime Bicknell on Sunday 15th July 2018 as part of the Clarence Bicknell Centenary celebrations, I asked certain experts to identify the Cime Bicknell from photos other than the card on which Clarence wrote (right). I reproduce in order, below,

bicknell bio map 3 from pdf

a) the map of the area from Valerie Lester's MARVELS - The Life of Clarence Bicknell (2018) showing the location of the Cime Bicknell,



Map by Martin Brown, copyright © 2018 The Estate of Clarence Bicknell, Marcus Bicknell and the Bicknell family collection.












cime bicknell depuis lac noir 1b) the Cime Bicknell photographed from the Lac Noir of the Vamasque (with thanks to Silvia Sandrone for the handwritten indications),














 c111 rob via sacra cime bicknell)    The Cime Bicknell in the centre of a photo probably by Luigi Pollini c. 1910 from the collection of the IISL in the Museo Bicknell, Bordighera. The mountain was identified for us by archaeologist and Vallée des Merveilles guide Nicoletta Bianchi.

The dog is Rob, Margaret Berry's. On close inspection of this extraordinary pose you can make out Clarence Bicknell, sitting with his knees in front of him, on the Chiappes the other side of the snow field, directly to Rob's right. The shapes under the small bluff to the left and above Rob could be two more people or back-sacks left on the ground.


Photo copyright © 2018 Istituto Internazionale di Studi Liguri

















cima bicknell gulliver itd)    The Cime Bicknell in winter in recent times, a photo from cuneo whom we thank. More at



NEWS - Henry Sanford Bicknell in Washington DC museum. Clarence's brother.

Written by Marcus Bicknell on .

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

I have had a very interesting exchange of emails with the National Gallery of Art Library, Washington, DC, in the USA. They have 3 photos of Cavendish House, Henry Sanford Bicknell's house in Clapham, London...

"The department of image collections at the National Gallery of Art library, Washington DC, has three photographs of Cavendish House, Henry Sanford Bicknell’s home. These photos were purchased several years ago from Harry Lunn Jr. Gallery in Paris.  Additionally, Lambeth Archives has duplicates of these images plus other interior views of Cavendish House that are apparently copy photos from an album (current location of the album is unknown unfortunately). We are trying to ascertain who the photographer of these photos was, and wonder if you would have any information regarding who might have photographed Cavendish House and produced an album for Henry S. Bicknell or his heirs prior to the sale of his art collection.

"A group of photographs by Benjamin Brecknell Turner recently for sale included photographic portraits of Christine and Henry S. Bicknell.  The Bicknells and Turners would have had a connection through their families’ involvement in the tallow chandling business.  One hypothesis is perhaps B.B. Turner, who photographed Henry Bicknell and his wife when they were all young, may have been asked to photograph Cavendish House before it was sold (the NGA photos, which date to the 1880s).   I would greatly appreciate any insight you might have on this theory, or information about the album or the identity of its photographer.  Thank you for your consideration.  "

Later... "BB Turner’s early works are a somewhat different color from our images, deeper and richer, but considering the new process apparently used in our later photos, not surprising.  He was not related to JMW Turner as far as I can tell.  His father was Samuel Turner who was in business with Benjamin Brecknell and produced the famous Brecknell-Turner candles and later, saddle soap.  BB Turner joined the Worshipful Company of Tallow Chandlers in 1837, where, being about the same age as Henry Bicknell, I suspect they would have known one another (BBT born 1815; HSB born 1818). 

"See from the V&A: .

"And here, with permission, are the photos of Henry S. and Christine Bicknell.  Sorry they’re so small, but the original file size is tiny.  These photos are by BB Turner."

Sincerely,  Andrea Gibbs
Deputy Chief and Image Specialist for Architecture
Department of Image Collections, National Gallery of Art Library, Washington, DC
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NEWS - Fitzwilliam cards distributed to other UK shops

Written by Marcus Bicknell on .

chichester clarence boutique card may2018chichester clarence boutique may2018Copy of my letter to the Fitzwilliam Museum today...


Dear Camay


For us this is a tremendous breakthrough in the acknowledgment of Clarence's talent. Congratulations. The story is that your cards and other merchandising have been spotted in the gift shop of Chichester Cathedral.


The trigger for my enthusiasm is that the person who spotted them is a leading light of the northwest Italy cultural scene, Gisella Merello Folli (her daughter is studying there). She is not only a historian and author of Charles Garnier e la Riviera but also chair of the Jury of the Parmurelu d'Oru, Bordighera's annual culture award, which was discerned to me in 2017 for our work on bringing Clarence Bicknell to public attention round Europe.


My point is that the Fitzwilliam merchandising has not only been executed brilliantly, but has also been SEEN to be executed brilliantly. This is the essence of great marketing and is therefore another great boost (alongside the inclusion of Clarence's work in the Floral Fantasies exhibition and the upcoming biography of Clarence by Valerie Lester) for the energies behind the celebration of his centenary.

If this link does not work for you, Gisella shows photos of the Clarence Bicknell cards in Chichester (also above) and the message

"Nel negozio adiacente alla meravigliosa cattedrale di Chichester abbiamo trovato in vendita dei cartoncini pubblicati dal Fitzwilliam Museum di Cambridge che riproducono disegni botanici di Clarence Bicknell!   È incredibile pensare che grazie alle ricerche per la biografia di Valerie Lester sono stati scoperti numerosi acquerelli di Clarence conservati negli archivi di Cambridge di cui non si conosceva l’esistenza.  Sicuramente i disegni sono stati realizzati da Clarence durante i suoi soggiorni a Casterino e a Bordighera.   Che meravigliosa scoperta!"

In the shop of Chichester’s wonderful cathedral we have found for sale some cards produced by the Fitzwilliam Museum reproducing Clarence Bicknell’s botanical drawings. It is incredible to think that, thanks to the research carried out for Valerie Lester’s biography on Clarence, many of his watercolors were found in Cambridge’s archives.  And surely these drawings were created by Clarence during his time in Casterino and Bordighera.
What a wonderful discovery!

Thank you Camay for your efforts

Your, happy, Marcus

NEWS - Chippindale's book in Esperanto

Written by Marcus Bicknell on .

high way chippindale coverChristopher Chippindale's "High Way to Heaven" on Clarence Bicknell and the Merveilles is being published in Esperanto, under the name Pado al Paradizo.esperanto federation italy logo
As part of the 17th Festival of Mediterranean Culture (25-27 May), in Imperia, near Bordighera, the Italian Esperanto Federation will present a lecture on Clarence Bicknell by Dr. Ivan Orsini, at which the recent film on Bicknell will also be shown. The lecture is scheduled for 27 May. The Festival will also be the occasion to launch a new Esperanto translation of Christopher Chippindale’s biography of Bicknell, High Way to Heaven.
With thanks to Professor Humphrey Tonkin, President & University Professor of the Humanities, Emeritus, University of Hartford, USA, for his efforts on the book and for this information.
You can buy this book now direcvtly from the Clarence Bicknell Association. Click here for the shop or here for the Esperanto book directly.

NEWS - Christine Kulper exhibition

Written by Marcus Bicknell on .

kulper spirito verde march 2018Devoted Clarence Bicknell fan Christine Kulper (see below) is exhibiting her fine paintings at the Hanbury Botanical Gardens and Villa 13-17 June. Please download a flyer and let your friends on the Riviera know.

kulper easter march 2018Christine Kulper's show flyer


Christine, who is a trained and experienced archaeologist, wrote an excellent paper, Clarence Bicknell - Petroglyph Engravings in the 21st Century , which we published on this site in 2017. You can download and read it using the link below:

Clarence Bicknell - Petroglyph Engravings in the 21st Century


RESEARCH - Clarence in an overgrown garden. Where?

Written by Marcus Bicknell on .

021 clarence overgrown garden mb collectionSono uno dei ricercatori che aiuta Valerie Lester nella sua biografia di Clarence Bicknell che sarà pubblicata (in inglese, prima, scuse) nell'estate 2018. Così abbiamo analizzato e scansionato tutte le foto della collezione Bicknell qui vicino a Londra. Dove pensi che questa foto di Bicknell sia scattata, in un giardino abbandonato? Hanbury a La Mortola? Boccanegra? Bordighera? Se conoscete la posizione, sarei molto grato di avere informazioni e una foto del sito oggi.

Con i più cordiali saluti a tutti i Bordighotti, e buona Pasqua da Marcus


I am one of the reseachers helping Valerie Lester in her biography of Clarence Bicknell which will be published (in English first, apologies) in summer 2018. So we have analysed and scanned every photo in the Bicknell collection here near London. Where do you think this photo of Bicknell is taken, in an abandonned garden? Hanbury at La Mortola? Boccanegra? Bordighera? If you know the location I would be very grateful to have information and a photo of the site today.

With warmest regards to all friends of Clarence Bicknell, and happy Easter from Marcus

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