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Clarence Bicknell (1842-1918) was a man of letters, an artist, author, traveller, botanist, archaeologist, pastor, humanist and Esperantist. Born in Herne Hill near  London, Clarence was the 13th child of Elhanan Bicknell, whale oil magnate and art patron. After studying at Cambridge University he was an Anglican priest for 15 years, then from 1879 lived in Bordighera on the Italian coast between Menton and Genoa; he died at his summer home nearby in Casterino in the high mountains of the Franco-Italian border on 17th July 1918.

Welcome to www.clarencebicknell.com, the web site launched in July 2013 as a commemoration of Clarence's life and work, and as home to the Clarence Bicknell Association. Outside Bordighera, Clarence might be the forgotten genius of 19th century science, arts and crafts. Our activities aim to put that right, i.e. make him known to a wider public across France, Italy, the UK and worldwide.

Give now. The 2018 Clarence Bicknell Centenary Fund, in cooperation with the International Institute of Ligurian Studies is still open for donations. If you would like to give now then click on the donate button below or go to the page on this site which has more details. Please also inform any friends who you think might like to donate.

2018 offerSecurity news at 8th August 2018: we are glad to inform our members and friends that this site is now secured with SSL encryption end-to-end. Your URL address bar at the top of the browser should show https://clarencebicknell.com, the "s" indicating that the site is secured. You can make donations and payments with a happy heart, including on the shop https://www.clarencebicknell.com/shop  etc. MARVELS is in stock for immediate shipment.


Buy MARVELS, the biography, the Casa Fontanalba Visitors' Book and publications by the Fitzwilliam Museum. Download details of this wonderful art reproduction of one of Clarence's celebrated vellum-bound albums here or click here for the Shop page

marvels front cover smallMARVELS: The Life of Clarence Bicknell, Botanist, Archaeologist, Artist. By Valerie Lester.

A treasure trove of research discoveries enlightens Valerie Lester’s biography of the captivating scientist and artist, Clarence Bicknell. Over 5 years, Lester has pored over hundreds of newly-discovered letters, botanical watercolours and arts-and-crafts designs in archives including the Natural History Museum, the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, the Conservatoire Botanique in Geneva and Genoa University. Every letter and diary entry provides Lester with Clarence’s voice; and each of his vellum-bound albums reveals drawings, watercolours and whimsical creations. The biography’s text, supported by more than 200 images, gives remarkable insights into how and why this man strove for perfection in each subject he tackled.

Clarence was a product of the late-Victorian Enlightenment, of the desire to understand our world and the quest to express it all creatively. Having lived for forty years in Bordighera on the Italian coast and spent summers at Casterino by the Vallée des Merveilles, now in France, he is a respected historical figure on both the French and Italian sides of the Riviera and the Maritime Alps. The irrepressible former clergyman dedicated himself first to botany, then archaeology in the high mountains, Esperanto and, towards the end of his life, to botanical art tinged with the whimsy of humour, narrative, affection for his friends and arts-and-crafts originality.

Valerie Lester is an independent scholar, writer, and translator living near Boston. She is the author of Fasten Your Seat Belts! History and Heroism in the Pan Am Cabin (1995) and Phiz, The Man Who Drew Dickens (2004). She has also written a biography of the great Italian typographer: Giambattista Bodoni: His Life and His World and has translated Alain-Fournier’s Le Grand Meaulnes with the title: The Magnificent Meaulnes (2009).

Published by Matador Books on  28 June 2018. Distributor: Orca Book Services. Tel: 01235 465521. Thema subject category : AGNB – Botanical art. Hardback 260 x 185 mm 256 pp Portrait. 212 images, full colour throughout. ISBN 9781789014945. Matador is an imprint of Troubador Books.

Order your copy now and benefit from a pre-publication and delivery offers. Click here for our shop.

trailer video linkThe Marvels of Clarence Bicknell  - the film. The 18 minute documentary biopic of Clarence Bicknell, in the evocative visual style of French director Rémy Masséglia, was released at selective screenings in September/October 2016 (see the list on this site at >Association > Events or here). Watch the film in HD 1080 here now by clicking on the film box, left or the Vimeo link below. Use a big computer screen or smart TV and make sure the audio is turned up...clarence bicknell movie poster 2016


The French, Italian and the Esperanto versions are similarly available on www.vimeo.com/clarencebicknell. You can find out more about the film on the FAQ sheet, in English here, version en français, in our newsletter, in the text of the screenplay of the film and in the story of the making of the film.

Order merchandising themed to the film by downloading the order form. Or click here for the Shop page

The Centenary exhibition and events calendar is presently as follows:

•    Imperia, Italy, 25-27 May 2018, Italian Esperanto Association featuring Clarence Bicknell at the Imperia Book Fair.
•    Cambridge University, Fitzwilliam Museum, botanical art exhibition Floral Fantasies, 5 June- 9 September 2018
•    Cambridge University, Fitzwilliam Museum, 11h30 on Wednesday 20th June 2018, presentation of MARVELS - The Life of Clarence Bicknell, by Valerie Lester, in the Courtyard next to the cafe and boutique.
•    Cambridge University, Fitzwilliam Museum, 13h15-14h00 on Wednesday 20th June 2018, lunchtime projection of the 18-minute film The Marvels of Clarence Bicknell, and talk by Graham Avery (Oxford University) and Marcus Bicknell on Clarence's Botanical Art.
•    Cambridge University, Trinity College Wren Library, small display about Clarence Bicknell who studied at Trinity, 5 June- 9 September 2018
•    Seattle, USA, July 2018, screening of our film in Esperanto La Mirindaĵoj de Clarence Bicknell at the binational Esperanto Congress (US/Canada).
•    Oxford University, film and a seminar at Oxford University, St Margaret's Institute http://www.smi-oxford.org.uk on Tuesday 3rd July 2018
•    Bordighera, Museo Bicknell, exhibition of Clarence Bicknell materials recently acquired, organised by the IISL, 19 July to late November 2018
•    Bordighera, Museo Bicknell, Settimana Bicknelliana organised by the IISL, July 2018, details here
•    Tende, Musée des Merveilles (July-September 2018) details here
•    Monaco, Jardin Exotique & Musée d’Anthropologie (September-November 2018) to be confirmed
•    Ventimiglia, Museo Rossi, two exhibitions a) contemporary artists inspired by the bicknellian path and b) the publication of a guide book on the naturalistic routes and rock engravings of the Valle delle Meraviglie. Organised by the IISL, summer 2018, details here
•    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)
•   Parma, Mercoledì 10 ottobre 2018 alle ore 16:00 presso l’Orto Botanico dell'Università di Parma Strada Farini, 90 - 43121 Parma. Film documentario Le Meraviglie di Clarence Bicknell (18 minuti) Interventi: Valerie Browne Lester – ricercatrice e scrittrice, Prof. Gisella Merello Folli – storica , Giuseppe Bessone – Ingegnere, storico, Marcus Bicknell – curatore della collezione Bicknell, pronipote di Clarence. Saluti finali di Tiziana Benassi, Assessore all'Ambiente del Comune di Parma
•   Glastonbury, 15 November 2018, film projection and talk, Renchi Bicknell.
•   Hanbury Gardens, La Mortola, Italy, 26 January 2019, film projection in Italian and talk.

Download a complete list of 2018 events in MS Excel format here

Interviews with Marcus Bicknell and Clarence's biographer Valerie Lester on Riviera TV, March 2017; click on the following link:

This website provides

  1. information for researchers and a place to share the results of research,
  2. more on Clarence and his talents for those discovering him,
  3. details of the Clarence Bicknell Association and how to join, and
  4. plans for celebrating the centenary of his death in 2018, including a definitive book on Clarence, a travelling exhibition, a botanical art prize, lectures in many countries &c.This website was conceived in spring 2013 by Marcus Bicknell, Clarence’s great-great-nephew and finished with the help of family and friends plus web authors Rémy and Zelda of Lez'Art Creation in Breil, just a few miles from the Vallée des Merveilles. There's more about the web site in the news blog. It gives some insight into Clarence the man, his life and works; you’ll find some images out of the family collection that have not been published anywhere before. It also gives information about the Clarence Bicknell Association and how you can join (click on >Association, >Membership above). The minutes of the first General Meeting, the names of the elected officers and their bios are all available as a download on the Who We Are page. We would be delighted to fb icon 325x325get your feedback via email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or via the Forum on this site for which you will need to be a member. And... see us on Facebook

 updated 21 November 2018 MB





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