RESEARCH - Origin of the name Cima Bicknell - Fritz Mader

Written by Marcus Bicknell on .

lac noir monte sainte marie e cima bicknellGraham Avery writes 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

cima bicknell card

Download a copy of Graham's report with a reproduction of the relevant page, with Fritz Mader's article, from la Rivista Mensile du Club Alpino Italiano 1908 in pdf form here



Note from Marcus Bicknell, editor.

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?

Bicknell family collection.


In Clarence's Time - brother Sidney Algernon Bicknell

Written by Marcus Bicknell on .

sidney bicknell portrait the keep acc 8490.3Science in the Archive at "The Keep", the East Sussex Record Office:

Algernon Sidney Bicknell

Here is our next science in the archive blog

By Emma Johnson

Feb 9, 2016

According to his obituary in the Sussex Express, Algernon Sidney Bicknell (1832-1911) who resided at Barcombe House, Lewes, had a wonderfully varied life. He served as a soldier during the Franco-Prussian war and travelled the world; he attempted to cross the Amazon and succeeded in climbing Mount Vesuvius ten times. The obituary notes that Algernon inherited two great passions from his parents; those of science and art. Indeed, it was believed that his father Elhanan, who was a great patron of art, was one of the first men to discover and encourage the great landscape artist, J.M.W. Turner. In his later years, Algernon turned his attention to science and astronomy. He was one of the oldest Fellows of the Royal Astronomical, Linnean and Geographical Societies.

Here at The Keep in the care of the East Sussex Record Office are some beautiful handwritten autobiographical notes of Algernon’s life. They also include local newspaper cuttings and publications written by Bicknell and his family members.

As well as astronomy, Algernon was also interested in fungilogical botany and issued a pamphlet on the value of certain fungi. Here is an extract from his ‘Notes on the edible fungi of Italy’:

‘I think there may yet be corners of the fungological domain where greater light may fall and one of these I hope to show. In every science there is a department strictly scientific, usually abstruse, and there is generally another in which all with average observant faculties may, as it were, stroll and render services. In fungology it has certainly always been so. For years the popular statements concerning fungi, with their terrors and their superstitions, were almost all we had to read, and as fungological studies assumed their proper botanical position through our better knowledge of structure and classification, fascinated by scientific discoveries, we somewhat neglected to rectify the popular beliefs of our forefathers; the wondrous stories of hecatombs of poisoned families still circulated, ill contradicted, in the autumn papers, and the credulous public still today believe that a couple of grammes of any toadstool for breakfast, will be followed by delirium, coma and death, which no injection of stramonium or of atropine can avert… It struck me then that it would not be wholly waste of time if I were to revise the hallowed statements concerning the sale and commercial value of fungi in Italy, and correct to modern date the antique and omnivorous assertions of the enthusiastic Badham. I propose to tell you what species are at present authorised by law to be sold in the public markets of the great cities of the peninsula; what species I have seen in them; and inasmuch as what has been said concerning these edible Italian fungi rests almost exclusively on the text of Vittadini…’

Bicknell’s writing oozes enthusiasm- it is very clear that he was fascinated by fungological botany and that he was intent on refuting the misconceptions about fungi. We came across these wonderful books detailing Algernon Bicknell’s incredible life on the off chance. That is the beauty of archives; sometimes you find the most interesting things when you are not directly looking for them.

•    Title: Papers of Algernon Sidney Bicknell (1832-1911), antiquarian, connoisseur and traveller, latterly of Barcombe House
•    Date: 1832-2015
•    Repository: East Sussex Record Office
•    ESRO reference: ACC 8490
•    Level: Fonds
•    Description: Autobiographical notes and genealogical papers of Algernon Sidney Bicknell, antiquarian, connoisseur and traveller. Bicknell was the son of Elhanan Bicknell (1788-1861), businessman and patron of the arts. In 1857 he married Rosa Louisa (1840-1913), daughter of William Wild of Denmark Hill.
•    Creator(s): Algernon Sidney Bicknell (1832-1911), antiquarian, connoisseur and traveller.
•    Biography: Algernon Sidney Bicknell, antiquarian, connoisseur and traveller, was the son of Elhanan Bicknell (1788-1861), businessman and patron of the arts. In 1857 he married Rosa Louisa (1840-1913), daughter of William Wild of Denmark Hill.
•    Administrative history: Purchased by private treaty; other parts of the archive have been retained by the family or sold to Park Farm Antiques (notes for the history of Biconylle of Somerset), The Royal Geographical Society (diary of tours in Spain, Portugal, Greece, Turkey, Crimea, Russia, Sweden and Denmark, 1887-1888) and The British Library (manuscript journals of John Bax of the Bombay Civil Service, d1863)
•    Custodial History: Purchased by private treaty; other parts of the archive have been retained by the family or sold to Park Farm Antiques (notes for the history of Biconylle of Somerset), The Royal Geographical Society (diary of tours in Spain, Portugal, Greece, Turkey, Crimea, Russia, Sweden and Denmark, 1887-1888) and The British Library (manuscript journals of John Bax of the Bombay Civil Service, d1863)
•    Access status: Open
•    Extent: 0.5

You can download this article in pdf format ... PDF version of this page

Clarence Bicknell Association filename MB sidney_bicknell_by_emma_johnson_the_keep_feb_2016.doc and .pdf

See also on this web site:


In Clarence's Time - appeal for help after the earthquake of 1887

Written by Marcus Bicknell on .

Image from the Illustrated London NewsIn supporting the research for Valerie Lester's biography of Clarence Bicknell which will go to press soon, I was pleased to come across a digitised newspaper cutting which we had not seen before. The Teesdale Mercury (U.K.) of 16th March 1887 printed two letters from residents of Bordighera:


Letters to the editor
Our columns are open for the expression of opinion, but we
do not necessarily adopt the views of our correspondents.
Spring Grove, Barnard Castle, March 8th, 1887.
S I R , — A s yon inserted in your last an interesting account
from an eye witness of the earthquake on the Riviera, you
may perhaps kindly be able to make room for the enclosed
statement and appeal from a friend of mine living at
Bordighera—a place which lies midway between San Remo
and Mentone. There may be some readers of your paper who
might like to show their sympathy with the sufferers by
sending a small amount, which I would gladly forward to Mr
Daly. He himself and his household escaped with a bad
shaking and fright; but a house near fell in and killed two
men.—I am, sir, yours faithfully,
Although accounts of the earthquake have appeared in the
London papers, i t is doubtful whether English people generally
have any idea of the extent of the catastrophe. One
village at least in this province has practically ceased to exist
many villages are almost depopulated, and within a comparatively
small area may be found hundreds of families
houseless, and i n some instances destitute. In some places
the shops, &c, containing the necessaries of life, have been
destroyed, and the survivors are threatened with starvation.
Measures of relief are being devised by the authorities, and
by private benevolence, but money is urgently needed. Any
sums, hoicerer small, which may be sent to me will be handed
to the local committee for the relief of the sufferers.
1st March, 1887.     H. DE BURGH DALY.
Villa Boschereccia, Bordighera, Italy.

The second letter was useful because we have been trying to find out about the Villa where the De Burgh Daly family lived, and here was see a confirmation that the spelling of the Villa is Boschereccia not Boscareccia. We have also found out that Miss Daly ran the Tea Rooms out of a building on the same courtyard as their home, giving on to the Tennis Courts at the rear. Handy for business!

You can download the page from the newspaper at Teesdale Mercury 16 March 1887

Do you have a period photo of the Villa Boschereccia? Or can you add any detail to this story? Thank you in advance.


NEWS - Homage to Clarence Bicknell and the Merveilles, 1988

Written by Marcus Bicknell on .

barral coverWe are pleased to publish on a definitive paper on the work of Clarence Bicknell on the rock engravings of the Vallée des Merveilles. The paper by Louis Barral and Suzanne Simone was published in the Bulletin du Musée d'Anthropologie Préhistorique de Monaco N°.31 in 1988. Both the French and English versions have been made available to us by the same museum with thanks to its director Jérôme Magail.

The paper contains the praise for Clarence, which Chippindale and others have picked up, as follows: “Presently, we must note that the classification into categories, classes, topics of C. Bicknell (1885) is as good (after some days of work) as the present one, after a century of research.” ("Christopher Chippindale et d’autres archaeologues ont attire l’attention sur le fait que Bicknell a fait un travail de classification des gravures rupestres aussi bon que ce qui a suivi dans les 100 ans depuis.").

It is also touching that the paper, which was originally published in English, is sub-titled "Homage to C. Bicknell". All the more fitting that we can publish it in this his centenary year.


Download the English version here


Télécharger la version française ici


Graham Avery wrote to me on the day I published this blog and the articles as follows:

"But the reference to 'C. Bicknell (1885)' is an error: it was not until 1897 that Clarence became interested in the rock engravings, and his publication mentioned at the end of the article (page 104) dates from 1913. It's  misleading to say that his classification was the result of 'some days of work': his book of 1913 was the result of 15 years' work. Maybe these are errors of translation from the original French into English."

...and a day later:

"I think the only rational explanation is that 'C. Bicknell (1885)' at page 95 is a simple error for 'C. Bicknell (1913)' which is the publication quoted at page 104 of the article. The source of this error may be page 94 of the article which says (in terrible English):

‘This census, realizable only when the snow is molten (end of june to end of october), was carried out, with worthiness (because this exciting work is inseparable of adjoining servitudes: long walkings, glacial nights, lack of groceries), by: C. Bicknell, the discoverer, who has recorded 14,000 carvings since 1885 to 1918’.

It’s true, of course, that Clarence began his recording in 1885, and perhaps the authors of the article transposed that date erroneously to page 95. In fact Clarence published nothing about the rock figures until:

Bicknell (1898) Le figure incise sulle rocce di Val Fontanalba (23 pages)

Bicknell (1899) Osservazioni ulteriori sulle incisioni rupestri in Val Fontanalba (8 pages)

Bicknell (1902) The prehistoric rock engravings in the Italian Maritime Alps (74 pages)

In the 1902 book (page 18) he recounted his visit to the Meraviglie in 1885, and added 'I was far from satisfied with my visit, and in 1897 resolved to go there again'. If he had actually written something after his earlier visit, he would surely have mentioned it."

RESEARCH - Louise Little pressed flower sample mystery

Written by Marcus Bicknell on .

louise little IMG 3756We received from Louise Little in January 2018 these photos of a plant sample with a printed label “HERBARIUM C. BICKNELL BORDIGHERA”. Prof Massoni and the year 1876 are referenced.

This sample is a mystery to me and the researchers in the Clarence Bicknell Association, for a couple of reasons. We would be grateful if any botanical expert could give us guidance.

1)    We have never seen this printed label before and we think it unlikely that it was printed by Bicknell himself. It could, however, have been printed by the institution housing the herbarium (that is, the collection of pressed flowers and plants), a collection big enough to have warranted printing of a label. The network of collectors and museums was large at the end of the 19 century, so it would be one of them.

2)    The hand-writing is not Clarence Bicknell’s.

3)    Bicknell was not established in Bordighera in 1876. He first arrived there in 1878 and settled there a year later. We have no previous evidence of Bicknell collecting samples and sending them to other collectors before he settled in Bordighera. The Museo Bicknell, which housed his own botanical collections, was not built until 1888. Therefore, whoever prepared this printed label and the framed pressed flower, most likely back-dated it. It might be that the person framing it did not know at which Prof Massoni received the sample. It is possible that the date reads 1896 in which case this paragraph is not applicable.

4)    The water-coloured frame for the pressed flower is unusually ornate, as if to try to add value to the object. Similarly, the wood of the frame is of a kind called “distressed beach wood” and very popular in modern framing, even available in this form on eBay and other popular web sites. Any thought that the frame is a modern fabrication is offset by the fact that the French-language newspaper on the rear of the frame appears to be a genuine period piece. The text of the newspaper is all in French, but there is no indication of which newspaper it is from. The text is mainly on events in Rome, dated 12 and 15 January 1872. This would seem to confirm that date of 1876 for the pressed flower, not 1896.

louise little IMG 3757louise little IMG 3806louise little IMG 3758







5)    In the top left corner is written Firenze and what could be a catalogue number.

6)     The pressed flower was found so framed by Louise Little in the last few months a local brocante fair in South West France “and was instantly drawn to it due to its colours and age, but at the time was not sure of its historical significance. 

Thanks in advance for any information you can provide.

Event - Nice, le jeudi 22 mars à 18h, film et conférence

Written by Marcus Bicknell on .

clarence bicknell movie poster 2016Clarence Bicknell au Palais d l'Agriculture de Nice,
le jeudi 22 mars à 18h, film et conférence

L’année 2018 marque le centenaire de Clarence Bicknell (1842-1918 ), homme de lettres, artiste, voyageur, botaniste, archéologue, pasteur, humaniste, espérantiste. Né à Londres, Clarence était le 13ème enfant d' Elhanan Bicknell, magnat de l’huile de baleine et mécène. Après des études à l'Université de Cambridge, il devint un prêtre anglican, et à partir de 1879 vécut à Bordighère sur la côte italienne, entre Menton et Gênes. Il mourut dans sa résidence d'été, proche de Castérino dans les hautes montagnes, à la frontière franco-italienne, le 17 Juillet 1918.

Nous fêtons ce centenaire le jeudi 22 mars à 18h avec a) une projection de film documentaire Les Merveilles de Clarence Bicknell (20 minutes, version française) suivi de b) une présentation de Marcus Bicknell, arrière petit neveu de Clarence Bicknell au sujet de 'Clarence Bicknell; sa passion pour les fleurs sauvages révélée dans son art', c) une discussion avec d'autres spécialistes, questions réponses, d) un apéro après la conférence.

A la Société Centrale d'Agriculture, d'Horticulture et d'Acclimatation de Nice et des Alpes-Maritimes, 113 Promenade des Anglais, 06200 Nice, France. (+33 4 93 86 58 44 email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Le Palais de l'Agriculture est le siège de la Société centrale d'agriculture, d'horticulture et d'acclimatation de Nice et des Alpes-Maritimes (SCAH), société savante fondée en 1860, association loi 1901, reconnue d'utilité publique depuis 1894. Il a été construit en 1900-1901 sur les plans de l'ingénieur des Arts et Métiers Paul Marin, secrétaire général de la Société centrale d'agriculture, d'horticulture et d'acclimatation de Nice et des Alpes-Maritimes. Il a été inauguré le 8 avril 1901 par le Président de la République, Émile Loubet. C'est un témoin de l'architecture de la Belle Époque sur la promenade des Anchristmas rose cglais. Propriété de la SCAH, l'édifice est inscrit au titre des monuments historiques le 28 mars 19911. Le bâtiment a reçu le label « Patrimoine du XXe siècle ». Sa restauration s'est achevée en 2012.

La société a pour objet d'étudier les procédés agricoles et horticoles, l'acclimatation et l'amélioration des animaux et végétaux. Notre association est ouverte à tous celles et ceux qui souhaitent y adhérer et participer à des activités choisies parmi celles proposées : cours de jardinage chaque semaine en salle au Palais ou sur terrain animés par Paul BRELAZ et son équipe, cours de botanique deux fois par mois animés par Marc BOTTIN, cours d'art floral déclinés en ikebana (Evy BLANC) et bouquet occidental (Michelle BERNADAC), visite de jardins historiques ou remarquables sélectionnés par Aude de CHIVRE, voyages culturels proposés par Michèle GARNIER, consultation des livres et journaux de notre bibliothèque sous l'oeil attentif de Guy TRAVERE et Dominique VIGNERON, conférences au Palais sur des sujets choisis.

Vous pouvez télécharger et imprimer ce texte par le lien ici.

Vous pouvez télécharger l'affiche de la SCAH ici

Société Centrale d'Agriculture, d'Horticulture et d'Acclimatation de Nice et des Alpes-Maritimes
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

En collaboration avec
L’Association Clarence Bicknell  -  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  -


NEWS - Italian award, Fitzwilliam recognition for Clarence

Written by Marcus Bicknell on .

parmurelu panel0

parmurelu panel 8c

Some reflections on 2017's campaign by Marcus Bicknell...

I should update all Clarence Bicknell lovers of the important strides taken by us in Bordighera and Cambridge in 2017. Bordighera, his home for 40 years and the site of the Museo Bicknell he built, has the core of  his following. From here we are spreading the interest in Clarence round Europe and the USA.

2017 Parmurelu d’Oru

We made a breakthrough in May when the Descu Rondu, an independent Bordighera- based cultural association, selected me as the winner of their annual award the Parmurelu d’Oru - that’s a “mini palm leaf”. The honour

is one thing, media attention for Clarence is another, and the opportunity to stage an independent exhibition was a third. Each  previous winner, artist, writer, scientist, has put something on to dazzle their public at the time of the award ceremony, October. In our case, Gisella Merello, President of the Jury of the Parmurelu d’Oru, author on art and architecture and once a researcher in the Museo Bicknell, encouraged us in our idea to present one of Clarence’s lesser-known talents. And I say “us” because my wife and partner in our Clarence campaign (which has been running since 2013), took on the role of curator of the exhibition. More in a moment.

parmurelu panels 2 cparmurelu panels 3 c

parmurelu panels 1 c









 fitzwilliam facadeFitzwilliam Museum

At about the same time, spring 2017, the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge University, “discovered” Clarence. That is to say they realised the importance in their own archive of the 405 watercolours in 7 vellum-bound albums. My uncle Peter, guardian of  the Clarence collection at the time, had given these albums to the Fitzwilliam in 1980 where they had languished in storage. While researching Clarence, we went up to Cambridge and were so struck by the images that we had some of them photographed at our expense. The Fitzwilliam liked many of them so much that they took many more photos and took the decision to feature Clarence’s work  in their 2018 exhibition of Botanical Art.  The Fitzwilliam  has also produced a choice of two Christmas cards to stock the museum shop, with another 12 coming in 2018, and have also designed the 2019 Fitzwilliam calendar with Clarence’s images.  Recognition indeed!PD.7 1980 f34 1 201704 sjc288 dc1

We were able to acquire from the Fitzwilliam the rights to show reproductions of the designs in  public and to publish them on our web site and in Valerie Lester’s upcoming biography of Clarence. Our own family collection has 3 of Clarence’s vellum- bound albums, notebooks brimming with sketches and watercolour landscapes.

Armed with this exciting and unseen artwork, Susie set about developing her essay on Clarence’s art www.clarence into an exhibition. The theme is that Clarence found creative fulfilment through his creation of these illustrated vellum albums which allowed him to develop his design and artistic talents above and beyond the rigorous depiction of standard botanical work and recording of the prehistoric rock engravings. The major influence on his style was the Arts and Crafts movement which he combined with Victorian whimsy.  14 printed panels A1 size (594 x 841 mm) guide the visitor through Clarence s art in a coherent way, the text being in English (by Susie), French (translations by Colette Thomas) and Italian ( by Edoardo Folli, Gisella’s son). Extra prints of the Fitzwilliam designs, art from the family collection, Genoa University and the Museo Bicknell, and personal items of Clarence’s make up a display of about 60 items.

It was also decided that Clarence’s albums should be available to a bigger audience, and now one of the three albums of art in the family collection, the Casa Fontanalba Visitors’ Book (which you can see in the left of the glass case in the photo from the Octber 2017 Bordighera exhibition, below right), has been the first to be reproduced in print. It has 104 pages of which 60 are full colour plates of mountain flowers in a matching border on the right side and signatures of the visitors to the house on the left side.  There are more details on the following page. The book is for sale at selected bookshops and on and was launched on the first day of the exhibition in Bordighera.parmurelu display cabinet c

On 8th October 2017 in Bordighera, the ceremony for the official award of the Parmurelu d’Oru to Marcus Bicknell was in the same hall and on the same day as the opening of the exhibition. The great and the good of Bordighera turned out to enjoy Clarence’s art and the accolades offered in the various speeches. Two weeks later the exhibition transferred in its entirety to the Museo Bicknell, also in Bordighera, where it will run till 30 November 2017. Further exhibitions to celebrate the centenary of Clarence’s death will follow during 2018, the present list being…
•    Genoa, Palazzo Reale (spring 2018, to be confirmed)
•    Nice, Société Centrale d'Agriculture, d'Horticulture et d'Acclimatation de Nice et des Alpes-Maritimes (spring, to be confirmed)
•    Cambridge University, Fitzwilliam Museum, botanical art exhibition (5 June- 9 September 2018)
•    Cambridge University, Fitzwilliam Museum, lunchtime seminar and film projection (Wednesday 20th June 2018)
•    Cambridge University, Jesus College Intellectual Forum seminar and film projection in the Frankopan Hall (date to be advised)
•    Cambridge University, Jesus College Intellectual Forum exhibition in the Frankopan Hall (date to be advised)
•    Oxford University, film and a seminar at Oxford University, St Margaret's Institute on Tuesday 3rd July 2018
•    Bordighera, Museo Bicknell (early July to November 2018)
•    Bordighera, Museo Bicknell, Settimana Bicknelliana 14-22 July 2018
•    Tende, Musée des Merveilles (July-September 2018)
•    London, Artworkers’ Guild (to be confirmed)
•    Monaco, Jardin Exotique (September-November 2018)
•    Monaco, Musée d’Anthropologie (September-November 2018)
•    Ventimiglia, Museo Rossi (summer 2018, dates to be advised)
•    Nice, Exposition sur la thématique "Botanistes et Alpinistes dans les Alpes-Maritimes entre les deux siècles" organisé par la Ville de Nice avec la participation des Amis du Muséum d'Histoire naturelle de Nice, Le Muséum d'Histoire naturelle de Nice, La Grande Bibliothèque "Louis Nucera" (BMVR), La Bibliothèque de Cessole, Le Club Alpin Français et l’Association Clarence Bicknell (octobre 2018)

With such a positive 2017 behind us , we are all looking forward to the centenary year in 2018 when Clarence will get the recognition he deserves.

In Clarence's Time - Thomas Cook and the Egypt trip

Written by Marcus Bicknell on .

416 Cooks Nile Cruise logoI wrote to Thomas Cook to ask for permisson to reproduce images of theirs in the biography of Clarence Bicknell by Valerie Lester due in 2018. I was delighted not only to get the approvals but also a charming letter from Paul Smith, the Archivist for Thomas Cook, with some useful information. I reproduce the email here in full as it might be of interest to historians of travel and to students of Clarence's life. I have corrected the transcript of Clarence's Egypt diary and added the salient points here to its footnotes and the annex. You can consult the new version by clicking on the following link:

Dear Marcus,

Happy New Year!

Many thanks for your recent email. Apologies for the delayed response, but I have been out of the office for the past two weeks.

In answer to your query, I have no objections to your reproducing the photo of the Oonas that you found online. I am also happy for you to reproduce the Thomas Cook poster and logo that appear on p22 of the diary.

I also spotted a few errors in your notes about Thomas Cook & Son on p51:

  • Thomas Cook retired at the end of 1878; John Mason Cook officially gained control of the business at the beginning of 1879 (although, in reality, John had been running things since 1873).
  • An earlier edition of Cook’s [Tourist's] Handbook to the Health Resorts of the South of France . . . was published by Thos Cook & Son (never “Sons”) in 1885.
  • Thomas Cook conducted his first party up the Nile in 1869 (not 1884).
  • I’m not sure that Clarence Bicknell is referring to a specific person when he says that Cook got the party through customs with ease. I think he is more likely to mean the corporate “Thomas Cook”, although perhaps in the person of a dragoman (or other representative). It is also highly unlikely to have been John Mason Cook himself.
  • John Mason Cook’s youngest son was Thomas Albert Cook, usually referred to as “Bert” (but never Albert).
  • John Mason Cook was never John A. Mason Cook – the “A” is an error.
  • John Mason Cook had three sons.
  • Cook's Tourists' Handbook for Egypt, the Nile and the Desert was first published in 1876 (not 1897).
  • Thomas Cook & Son built their first Nile steamers in 1886 (not 1904).

NileCruise7If you are able to incorporate any of my amendments, I would be very grateful.

I also note with interest that Clarence Bicknell sailed across the Mediterranean on P&O’s “Hydaspes” – Thomas Cook himself actually travelled aboard this vessel as part of his pioneering world tour in 1872/73!

One final point: In footnote 14 on p5 you discuss the use of Australian vs Austrian. “Austrian” is definitely correct – Austrian Lloyd and Norddeutscher Lloyd were different companies, the former being much older and bigger than the latter.

I hope this helps, but please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any further queries or requests.

Kind regards,



Paul Smith | Company Archivist

Thomas Cook UK & Ireland

T: +44 (0) 1733 417350

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

Thomas Cook UK Ltd, Westpoint, Peterborough Business Park, Lynch Wood, Peterborough PE2 6FZ, United Kingdom

For more information visit or your local store.

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NEWS - Fitzwilliam exhibition dates, 5 June - 9 Sept 2018

Written by Marcus Bicknell on .

fitzwilliam museum logofitzwilliam facadeDelighted to announce the dates of the Fitzwilliam Museum's exhibition of botanical art... 5 June - 9 September 2018. This museum is one of the most interesting and well-endowed in Britain and is part of the University of Cambridge. Some of Clarence's fantastical work in their archives will be featured. Brilliant dates for lovers of Clarence... 17 July 1918 was the date of his death so we will be able to honour him suitably. The 415 watercolours and illustrated album pages by Clarence in the Fitzwilliam archive were given to them by Peter Bicknell in 1980 and forgotten till last year; now they are being given pride of place.
We have also been invited to host a seminar and film projection on a Wednesday lunchtime, date to be announced.
The two Clarence Bicknell images are Copyright, Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge, whom we thank for the right to reproduce them here.
Copyright Fitzwilliam Museum
Copyright Fitzwilliam Museum

NEWS - Clarence Bicknell biography progress

Written by Marcus Bicknell on .

sally salvesensally salvesen pevsner book launchClarence Bicknell - the biography - by Valerie Lester is due in spring 2018. We are delighted to tell all Clarence's followers that the completed book is at second draft.

The book's editor is a giant of the art publishing industry Sally Salvesen, who was 30 years with Yale University Press editing, for example, the Pevsner Architectural Guides and the Pelican History of Art. Other books she has edited include Of Green Leaf, Bird and Flower, by Elisabeth Fairman (shortlisted for the 2014 Authors’ Club book prize); Endless Forms: Charles Darwin, Natural Science and the Visual Arts, by Diana Donald and Jane Munro, catalogue accompanying the Fitzwilliam Museum’s record-breaking exhibition, awarded the 2009 William M. B. Berger Prize for British Art History; and Rembrandt, The Master and His Workshop, 1990.

You can read Sally's bio here and her photo is to the right.

valerie lester at boccanegraDid you know that the book's writer, Valerie Lester, left, a descendant of Clarence Bicknell's maternal grand parents Browne, and of his uncle Phiz, Dickens' illustrator, also wrote Fasten Your Seat Belts! History and Heroism in the Pan Am Cabin (1995), which is a history of Pan American told in the voices of its cabin crew; Phiz, The Man Who Drew Dickens (London, 2004), a biography of Hablot Knight Browne, Dickens’s principal illustrator (Clarence Bicknell’s uncle and Valerie’s great-great-grandfather); and Giambattista Bodoni: His Life and His World (Boston 2015). Her bio is available here.

Valerie was with us near London in November working with Susie and me on details of research and scope of the book. She is now back at home near Boston MA in the USA and corresponding with us by phone and email. Sally Salvesen has completed several weeks of editing work on the book and as of 12th December it's back with Valerie for a final read-through. When that is done, Nick Humez will write the index and I will finalise the preferred images (from a choice of nearly 600 images including art by Clarence and the black-and-white period shots in the mountains and in Bordighera. The most exciting aspect of the book is the amount of new material communicated by the mass of letters (about 1000 of them) which Graham Avery and others have located since 2013 and which Valerie has spent the time to read. The "voice" of Clarence is very present in the book and we get a much clearer idea of the path of his life and the influences on it. Look forward to May 2018, target publication date, with anticipation.

RESEARCH - Edoardo Rostan (1826-1895), botanist

Written by Marcus Bicknell on .

RostanAt the award ceremony for the Parmurelu d'Oru in Bordighera in October I had the pleasure of meeting Lucetta Rostan who had purchased a copy of the Casa Fontanalba Visitors' Book. She wrote to me yesterday with interesting information about Edoardo Rostan, botanist, as follows:

"Probabilmente Lei non si ricorda, ma dopo la conferenza a Bordighera dell'11/11/2017, Le ho chiesto la dedica sul libro e Le ho detto di avere lo stesso cognome dello scopritore della Gentiana rostani pur non essendo sua parente. Una biografia sintetica, ma sicuramente attendibile, si trova sul sito della Società di Studi Valdesi Presso l'archivio di tale società , sito a Torre Pellice (TO), si trova un fondo con documenti relativi alla famiglia Rostan  ed una ricca serie di lettere di cui Le invio l'elenco. La grafia del dott. Rostan e di difficile interpretazione, veramente degna di un medico. Le invio inoltre due articoli tratti dalla rivista di cultura e storia valdese "La beidana" un po' datati (marzo 1990!), ma attendibili."
I shared the note with Graham Avery, Vice-Chairman of the Clarence Bicknell Association, who writes as follows:

"Thanks for passing on these documents which concern Edoardo Rostan (1826-1895). He was born in Piemonte, studied medicine and botany in Geneva, practised as a medical doctor in the Valdese region, and was an active botanist. The main town of the Valdese region is Torre Pellice, a centre of the Waldensian church. One of the documents is a list of his correspondence, archived at Torre Pellice; I don’t find Clarence Bicknell in it, though there are letters from persons whom Clarence Bicknell knew, such as

39. Budden, H.F., Firenze (1873-79) 3
41. Burnat, Vevey CH (1893-94) 4
58. Correvon, Henri, (botanico) Ginevra CH (s.d.) 1
74. Doerfler, (botanico) Vienna A (1893) 2

"The other documents are articles on ‘Edoardo Rostan and his time’ which mentions that he was interested in the rock engravings of the Meraviglie, though he doesn’t seem to have visited them, and another on ‘Edoardo Rostan and his Flora of the Cottian Alps’ which he never completed. The Cottian Alps are north of the Maritime Alps, and as far as I know Clarence Bicknell never visited them, though Reginald Farrer did. Edoardo Rostan, for his part, doesn’t seem to have had links with Bordighera. In brief, Edoardo Rostan is an interesting person, but not directly relevant to Clarence Bicknell."

RESEARCH - Mader, Berger and Willmott

Written by Marcus Bicknell on .

Graham Avery, Vice-Chairman of the Clarence Bicknell Association, writes...

Thanks for telling me of the publication . With the aid of the list of contents (see my summary below) I have browsed the parts that looked interesting, but haven't read the whole volume (212 pages). Of particular interest to me is the article by Mariotti (pages 136-166) on ‘The contribution of some German personalities to botanical culture’ which includes a section on Fritz Mader (pages 150-154) and even a reference (page 162) to one of my articles on the CB website:
Avery G., 2016. ‘Cher Monsieur’. Clarence Bicknell’s correspondence with Emile Burnat 1886-1917.
I'm intrigued by some of the information that Mariotti offers about Mader, which I plan to follow up with him in due course. In general, the volume gives a fascinating picture of the cultural and botanical activities of Germans and other foreigners on the Riviera around 1900. Since it includes brief references to Ellen Wilmott (pages 63, 95) I copy this to Tamsin Treverton Jones. When I met her at my talk in Bristol I mentioned to her ‘The British Colonies in the Italian Riviera in the '800 and '900’ by Alessandro Bartoli, Fondazione "A. de Mari" Cassi di Risparmio di Savona, 2008 (188 pages) as a possible source for Wilmott. But although it has much information on expatriates, including CB, Thomas Hanbury, and many others, I see that Ellen Wilmott doesn't figure in the index.

LIST OF CONTENTS (Mariotti and Minuto paper)
Alwin Berger - Conference Proceedings
Programme of Hanbury Gardens, Ventimiglia: 6-8 October 2017:
Presentation of the Conference Proceedings "Alwin Berger and others. The signs of German culture in the gardens and in the Riviera landscape. Before and after the Great War"
Biographical exhibition on Alwin Berger, curator of the GBH from 1897 to 1915.
Text of Proceedings (Boll. Mus. Ist. Biol. Univ. Genova, 79, 2017, 212 pages) is at:

L. MINUTO Presentation 5
L. SCHMALFUSS Alwin Berger: his life, family and friends 9
D. METZING The scientific heritage of the gardener, botanist, and succulent researcher Alwin Berger 17
G. CAMPODONICO & M. MARIOTTI Elise Berger’s life memories. Presentation of the Italian edition of an unpublished diary on Alwin Berger’s life 45
E. ZAPPA & M. MARIOTTI Alwin Berger, curator of the Hanbury Botanical Gardens at La Mortola 52
F. DE CUPIS & D. GANDOLFI A precious photo album in honor of Thomas Hanbury recently rediscovered 86
A. GUIGGI, M. MARIOTTI, F. PASTOR & E. ZAPPA Exsiccata and types in the A. Berger’s herbarium at La Mortola (HMGBH) 104
F. MAZZINO Ludwig Winter: its gardens and its sign in the Italian landscaping 113
M. MARIOTTI The contribution of some German personalities to botanical culture in
Liguria (NW-Italy) between 19th and 20th centuries 136
German botanists and naturalists on the Riviera between the end of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th. The origins of the industrial floriculture 166
S. CARLINI Otto Penzig, explorer. The diary of the expedition in Indonesia. Presentation of the Italian edition

NEWS - Clarence Bicknell - his art - press coverage

Written by Marcus Bicknell on .

museo bicknell 10nov2017The talk I and Dr Giovanni Russo gave in Bordighera's Museo Bicknell on Saturday 11 October went down well. Sophie Forestier of Nice Matin, a great Clarence fan who lives in Tende where he was buried, wrote a cracking article with all the facts and a good feel too. You can look at the article in French at download.

Photo, left to right, Marcus Bicknell; D.ssa Daniela Gandolif, Director of the Museo Bicknell; Gisella Merello, chair of the jury of the Parmarelu d'Oru


NEWS - Riviera Woman writes on Clarence

Written by Marcus Bicknell on .

The artistic language of mountains and flowers: Clarence Bicknell

By Julia Moore               31st October 2017

If humans were vegetables, then Clarence Bicknell would be a beguiling, mysterious onion. A man of many layers, a  courageous maverick of his contemporary, Victorian straight jacket era, he threw off convention and followed his passions.

Next year, 2018 will be the centenary of his death. Our contemporary world, with its dumbed-down global travel and accessible trekking common-place, Bicknell reminds us of the pioneering mind-set incorporating rudimentary modes of transport and the sheer devotion of time and discomfort of discovery. He provided the turn-of the-Century world with early botanic and rock-carving discoveries, meticulous archiving, and water-colours to rival the peer-group establish visual artists, frequent visitors to the London parental home.

His life journey took him from South London to the Merveilles valley, Alpes-Maritimes. Specifically, he threw off the career/life-plan which accompanied a comfortable, Victorian existence, especially the claustrophobia of clerical life. Never losing his personal faith, he eschewed the life of a parish vicar, in the easy existence of the South of France, instead profiting from its  climactic provision of flora and fauna.

Bicknell’s solitary, reflective life did not preclude a broad-view, humanitarian engagement with the wider world. Almost as a balance to his intense, focussed mountain life, his shrewd investments benefitted charitable projects - a poorhouse in Shropshire and a hospital in Bordighera. His exercise and promotion of Esperanto and generosity in sharing his findings with a growing academic community is evidence that this is no reclusive hermit, turning his back on the world.

Casa Fontanalba Visitors' Book

It’s a cliché to speculate that his background -  closeted life at Cambridge, associations with a closed-set Brotherhood combined to cause the ‘escape and run’ decision. An alternative view is that such formative experiences led Bicknell to adopt the approach he did - a mathematician by training, in addition to  contemplative and reflective periods also required by ecclesiastical training became his defining skill-set for the path he, himself chose, they were complimentary to his final works, not adversaries to it.

The exhibition of watercolours, design art, personal effects and 18-minute bio-film is at the Museo Biblioteca Clarence Bicknell, Bordighera, until 30th November 2017.

(Mondays 8.30-13/13.30-17.00hr, Tuesdays and Thursdays 9-13hr). Curated by Susie Bicknell. Marcus Bicknell has recently been awarded with the Parmurelu D’Oru by the Descu Runde, for services to the region’s culture and the significance of Clarence’s life and work here.


Reproduced from today. MB

In Clarence's Time - what did his father think of him?

Written by Marcus Bicknell on .

samuel enderby“By the Grace of God, John, just look at the Samuel Enderby will you? What a ship. Glorious. And full to the gunwhales with sperm oil, I’ll be bound. We’ll find out tomorrow our share”.

Elhanan Bicknell and John Langton, his partner, were in their office in Newington Butts on the south bank of the Thames, looking out of the window across as street thronged with porters, traders, shipmen, an occasional hansome cab and all the hub-bub of Victorian industrial revolution London. The two middle-aged business-men were dressed in long coats with fur collars against the cold, despite being inside. It was the last days of 1845.

elhanan bicknell pose c“Elhanan, dear friend, do you feel the chill of an industry coming to an end? How many times will we watch with pride a sailing ship returning from the south Pacific ocean with such a rich cargo? Will London’s street lights and the lighthouses of the world burn bright with our whale oil? Will we long see sailing boats plying their trade on the high sea; why, only this August I read that Brunel’s iron steamship SS Great Britain crossed from Liverpool to New York with a engine driven by steam and a metal screw rotating faster than the eye can see. The Queen, god bless her, travelled on his Great Western Railway… and survived.”

“You are but 8 years older than me John, yet you’re sounding like an old man. No, what worries me, is the impact of those scoundrels in Westminster on our livelihood. Peel resigns over the Irish famine, Russell is unable to form a government, so Peel has to continue. The Mines Act is but one new law preventing children under 10 working on the ships. You and I are forced to pay tax on our income to this government. When will it end?”

“You must be happy to have invested in art, not in the whale oil industry. ‘Elhanan Bicknell, patron of the arts’ I see it written in the papers.”whalers turner dp169567 c

“Indeed, I have been fortunate in my decisions, although I feel God’s hand guide me. I alone saw value in the new artists here, my friends Landseer, Roberts, Landseer, Stanfield, Etty and that scoundrel Turner. That reminds me, pray, did I recount to you John, the hilarity of our Christmas party last week? Turner deigned to turn up without having answered the invitation, but then he enjoys the opportunity to see my dear wife Lucinda. You know how he hates his own image to be recorded, but Edwin Landseer fair exploded that bunkum; Turner was chatting with our guests over a cup of tea in the drawing-room, and D’Orsay placed himself as a screen beside him to hide,turner by dorsay mb property c when necessary, Landseer, sketching him at full length in pencil on the back of an envelope. It’s an amusing little drawing and I have encouraged the pair of them to have Hogarth print it for the amusement of the public! Amusement… even my children, peeping into the room, understood the joke, even Clarence who, although he is only 3, spends all his time with Lucinda learning how to draw.”

“So which of your children will take on the business.”

“Sidney? Herman? Percy? I doubt any of the teenagers have a business head. Certainly not that Clarence, my 13th child, that’s for certain. He’s away with the fairies. He’ll be a vicar or will live in a distant land following the scripture of Darwin… or will just paint flowers all his life.”


A sketch by Marcus Bicknell. Images; The Samuel Enderby, portrait of Elhanan Bicknell, Turner's Whalers and Turner by d'Orsay

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