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The first biography of the scientist, artist and man of letters Clarence Bicknell. Fascinating for those interested in Arts & Crafts design, the natural sciences, archaeology and the Victorian Age of Enlightenment.
2018 is the centenary of Clarence Bicknell's death; it is being marked by events in Italy, France and the UK. 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 Vallee 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.
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).