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MARVELS: 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 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.


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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 typographers: 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. Thema subject category : AGNB – Botanical art. Hardback 260 x 185 mm with 256 pages in portrait format. 212 images, full colour throughout. ISBN 9781789014945. Matador is an imprint of Troubador Books Ltd.

You can order this book now and have it shipped to you by the Clarence Bicknell Association.


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