The Book of Guests in Esperanto – text published

The frontispiece of Clarence’s Book of Guests in Esperanto

The Book of Guests in Esperanto by Clarence Bicknell is published today in text form. We provide a transcription of the Esperanto original and the English translation. A reproduction of each page is available to students and researchers on application (

Clarence wrote in this small vellum-bound album his notes in Esperanto on guests who had spent the night in the Casa Fontanalba, including four dogs. Each left-hand page shows notes on a guest in coloured ink with their initials illuminated; the right-hand page shows a watercolour of a flower found nearby, sometimes relevant to the person.

The book is full to the last page, so much so that to enter subsequent visitors Clarence went back in the album and used empty space on many pages; this can first be seen on page 5 where the 1906 entry for Mercede Pollini is followed by the 1915 entry for Joseph Benbow. If there is not enough room on the page for the second person then Clarence is not averse to continuing on the next page with space, e.g. Jules van Biesbroeck on page 9, continued on page 10. On page 34 is an example of en entry by someone other than Clarence – dated 17 July 1918, the day Clarence died there – for a cowherd on his way up to his pasturage; the entry is probably by Luigi’s wife Mercede Pollini whom Clarence described as a good Esperantist. There are similar entries on pages 35 and 36.

The vellum-bound books, (about a dozen of them, of which seven are in the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge), when new, are said to have been gifts to Clarence from Margaret Berry to whom he returned them when they were full. This Book of Guests in Esperanto is the only small format one recorded by the Clarence Bicknell Association. The album’s title differentiates this book from the Casa Fontanalba Visitors’ Book which contains only the signature of visitors.

A typical page; notes about his guests on the left and a framed flower on the right

Book of Guests in Esperanto

  • Vellum-bound album of cartridge papers, about 40 pages, half full.
  • The empty album made by Giuseppe Giannini, via Tornabuoni, Firenze and retailin for 2.50 lira.
  • 130x205mm portrait.
  • Completed by Clarence between 1910 and 1915.
  • Transcribed in Esperanto by Michela Lipari [Italian Esperanto Association] in January 2019
  • Translated into English by Professor Humphrey Tonkin (Emeritus Professor of the Humanities, University of Hartford, USA) in February 2019.
  • Compiled, checked and formatted into this document by Marcus Bicknell 2021.

The four-digit photo numbers are those of the set taken by Marcus in 2011 and used as reference by Michela Lipari when translating.

29 June 2021