Dr. Bickley's book [Steps to Paradise and Beyond...]should remind us that the present emerges out of the past, and that much of what we today take for granted about our world derives from the ingenuity, labor and persistence of those who came before. – Charles E. Morrison, President, East-West Center, Hawaii.
For Verner's introduction to this book in the Proverse Readers' Club Series of author talks, see the youtube video at: https://youtu.be/TwxDOAql58g
VERNER BICKLEY has led culture and language learning projects in seven countries. After demobilisation, he was an Education Officer with the Singapore Government, a British Council Officer in Burma, Indonesia and Japan (where he was also First Secretary in the British Embassy Cultural Department, Tokyo), Head of Language Training for Saudi Arabian Airlines, Full Professor of English at the University of Hawaii and Director of the Culture Learning Institute of the East-West Centre in Honolulu. In Hong Kong, he was Assistant Director of Education and Director of the Government's Institute of Language in Education. He is Chairman of the Executive Committee of The English Speaking Union (Hong Kong ) and until recently was an Honorary Research Fellow, Centre of Asian Studies, University of Hong Kong.
An experienced actor and radio presenter, Verner Bickley is the reader of the full audio version of The Golden Needle: The Biography of Frederick Stewart (1836-1889). Two of his non-fiction works have received Project Grants from the Hong Kong Arts Development Council.
The first volume of his Autobiography , Footfalls in the Memory (2009), is published by The Radcliffe Press in London and New York. The second volume, Steps to Paradise and Beyond: Hawaii to China, Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong and Elsewhere (2013) is published by Proverse, supported by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council.
In May 2010, Verner Bickley spoke about Footfalls at The British Council, Singapore and at Select Books. [Photo 2.] (Several chapters speak of Singapore in the 1950s, while he was living and working there.) After Steps to Paradise and Beyond was published, Verner visited Honolulu, where, among other activities, he gave a talk at the East-West Centre, well-attended, among others, by former colleagues and friends.
Between January 2013 and April 2015, the third edition of Verner's five book poetry anthology, Poems to Enjoy, was published. Each book has additional commentary and is accompanied by CDs with lively readings of all poems in the book.
Verner's published works also include more than another twenty books and many articles on language and culture.
Asked what book(s) he enjoyed reading as a child, Verner's reply was:
What is your favourite book? Not an easy question to answer with certainty. Favourite because it teaches something? Favourite because it entertains, thrills, disturbs? Favourite because villains meet their deserts and heroes triumph? All of these really.
As far as I now remember, I was introduced to the world of fiction, first in a young children’s book (the name of which I have forgotten) and, later, in two magazines that began publication in 1908, or thereabouts. Entitled “Gem” and “Magnet,” respectively, these now defunct publications featured boarding schools that, presumably, were of interest to many of their readers, whilst being socially and financially out of their reach. Equally unobtainable, for different reasons, was “The Swiss Family Robinson,” the adventures of a family marooned on a desert island. I read this on most nights until someone turned out my light. For some reason, the book presented to me did not contain the name of the author. It was not for some years after I had read the book many times that the publisher revealed that he was a certain Johann David Wyss who died in the year 1812. As I grew older, I still maintained an interest in the Swiss Family’s adventures, but was also captured by Richmal Crompton and enjoyed many of her thirty-nine books, all of which featured the eleven-year old “William” who never aged. Then it was the turn of E. Phillips Oppenheim and the wishful thinking in one of his many books, “The Inevitable Millionaires.”
I would like to believe that my own two autobiographies will continue to be of as much interest as the fictitious publications of Wyss, Crompton and Oppenheim. A major difference, of course, is that “Footfalls Echo in the Memory,” and “Steps to Paradise” reflect reality (or my version of it). As Dr Charles Morrison, the President of the East-West Center in Hawaii, has written, “Dr Bickley’s book(s) should remind us that the present emerges out of the past, and that much of what we today take for granted about our world derives from the ingenuity; labour and persistence of those who came before.”
BOOKS BY VERNER BICKLEY PUBLISHED BY PROVERSE HONG KONG
Poems to Enjoy, Books 1-5 (inclusive) 3rd edition (2013-2015). To view an edited video of Verner talking about these books, visit youtube: https://youtu.be/IbcUmVr4Kvc
Steps to Paradise and Beyond: Hawaii to China, Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong and Elsewhere (2013)
To an edited video of Verner talking about this book, visit youtube: https://youtu.be/TwxDOAql58g
Forward to Beijing! A Guide to the Summer Olympics (2008)
Verner contributed the chapter, "Differing Perceptions of Social Reality in Dr Stewart's Court", in A Magistrate's Court in Nineteenth-Century Hong Kong (Proverse, 2005).
To see details of the books as well as purchase information, please visit our Hong Kong based distributors website, www.chineseupress.com
Books published by other publishers include several textbooks and a poetry anthology; also Cultural Relations in the Global Community (with Dr John Philip). Searching for Frederick and Language and the Young Learner were published in Hong Kong. His memoir, Footfalls Echo in the Memory, was published in London and New York in February, 2010.
Verner Bickley spoke at Kubrick, Yaumatei, Kowloon, Hong Kong. Here are links to a write-up and video of the event.
TALK AT THE HONG KONG INTERNATIONAL LITERARY FESTIVAL, 2011
Verner Bickley gave a talk, "The Old Empire", at the Hong Kong International Literary Festival,13 March 2011, providing a context for the writing and reading of Memoirs, Biographies and Autobiographies.
PROVERSE READERS' CLUB TALK
Saturday, 18 June, Dr Verner Bickley spoke as the editor of the anthology, Poems to Enjoy, now in its third edition -- five decades after its first publication. He used examples from Book 1 (for youngest readers) as well as from Book 5 (for older and adult readers) as examples of poems that, experience tells him, children like.
Asked what had been his basis for selecting the poems, Verner gave the simple answer, "That children should enjoy them". He read some of the poems, giving a virtuoso performance of some long-popular favourites, demonstrating clearly that he had been successful in selecting poems that adults as well as children enjoy.
PROVERSE READERS' CLUB TALK
Saturday, 27 February 2016, the fifth speaker in the Proverse Readers' Club series was Proverse Publisher and Author, Verner Bickley. Verner delivered a very well-prepared and wide-ranging talk, centering on his experience in Hawaii during the period 1972-1980, when he was Director of the Culture Learning Institute of the East-West Centre.
Thoughtful and thought-provoking comments and questions were given by those attending. A lighter moment was provided by Viki Radford, who asked what Verner found the most surprising, when in Hawaii. His answer? -- "That there was never time to go to the beach!"
Verner's book, "Steps to Paradise and Beyond: Hawaii to China, Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong and elsewhere" is available from Hong Kong bookshops, including Dymocks Books and Cafe Discovery Bay, Lantau, Hong Kong.
TALK TO RAS(HKB)
Dr Verner Bickley, MBE, spoke Thursday, 5 July 2012, to the ROYAL ASIATIC SOCIETY Hong Kong Branch, on the subject, "Time Present and Time Past: Some personal reminiscences of Singapore, Hong Kong, Burma, Indonesia and Japan".
Several comments and questions were raised by members of the audience and the answers were comprehensive, well-informed and extremely interesting.
Dr Verner Bickley’s first encounter with Asia took place when he was 19 years old and a cypher officer in the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve (RNVR).
It was an interesting time in history, with India on the fringe of independence. One manifestation of this was a mutiny staged by the then Royal Indian Navy, for reasons that are described in Verner’s book, Footfalls Echo in the Memory. A year later, in Ceylon, Verner sat patient - but wondering - in a Trincomalee to Colombo train that, for political reasons, was deserted without warning by its Sinhalese, anti-colonial crew.
Back in Britain, after demobilization and some interesting experiences, Verner completed his university education and was appointed to the Colonial Service.
His first posting was to the premier boys’ school in Singapore, Raffles Institution (earlier attended by late Minister Mentor, Mr Lee Kwan Yu).
Later, Verner became Head of the English Department at the Singapore Teachers’ Training College, then situated near to Orchard Road, a street that had not developed much beyond its original function as a nutmeg plantation.
In 1959, Verner joined the British Council and was posted to Burma during the U Nu regime. In his talk, he spoke about his encounter with UNu, and give us a taste of Nu’s political play, the Wages of Sin (Verner has a signed copy of this). He told us about his acquaintance in Kyaukpyu in the Arakan with the brave medical missionary, Ada Louise Gulliver, and the three “bad things” that she experienced.
Later, in wartimeSaigon,Verner was not under fire, but a well-meaning Vietnamese official trapped Verner’s thumb in his car door. Hong Kong came next, for a conference − and for thumb treatment!
Finally Verner took us to Japan and a visit to the Imperial Palace where he was one of a number of diplomatic representatives received by Emperor Hirohito. Later, he was involved, as all Embassy and British Council officers were, in the arrangements for the impossibly busy visits in 1969 of Princess Margaret and the Earl of Snowdon (for a “British Week”) and, in 1970, for Prince Charles’s first public visit overseas to visit the 1970 Osaka Expo.
In 1971, Verner was appointed Director of the Culture Learning Institute of the East-West Center in Hawaii. In 1983, he returned to Asia as Assistant Director of Education and as Founder Director of the Institute of Language in Education, from which post he retired in 1992.
He is now Chairman of the English-Speaking Union in Hong Kong; Managing Director of Proverse Publishers and Joint Founder (with his wife, Gillian) of the International Proverse Prize for unpublished writing. This is awarded annually.
Dr Bickley had radio and television experience as continuity announcer with the former BBC Far Eastern Station and as writer, actor and script writer for the NHK in Japan; Radio Malaya (now Radio Singapore); and RadioRepublik Indonesia.
In addition to several textbooks and a poetry anthology, Dr Bickley’s publications include Cultural Relations in the Global Community (with Dr John Philip), Searching for Frederick; Language and the Young Learner in Hong Kong; and Forward to Beijing (about the 2008 Olympics). His memoir, Footfalls Echo in the Memory, was published in London and New York in February, 2010.
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