MRI Forum 3

"Local History in Hong Kong:
An Attempt at some Global Understanding"

by Dr. Gillian Bickley, Hong Kong Baptist University


Summary of the Presentation

English romantic poet, William Blake's phrase, “a world in a grain of sand” is an appropriate motto for Dr Gillian Bickley's talk. Drawing on her work both as historian and biographer, as well as referring to her recent book of poetry, she will suggest how local history, specifically of Hong Kong — and by extension, of Macau — can contribute to global understanding. Similarly, reviewing For the Record and other Poems of Hong Kong , literary critic David McKirdy writes: “Bickley's Hong Kong is both a universal and a personal one and like Italo Calvino's book The City she captures a Hong Kong of the mind; the one city that we all share as a physical space against the myriad cities that we experience and perceive distinctly as our own. She skilfully fuses the human and the natural world.” It is our sincere wish that this talk will foster a dialogue with those present, bringing many of Macau's literary and historical writings into the discussion.

Profile of the Speaker

Gillian Bickley has lived mostly in Hong Kong since 1970 and is the author of books and other publications on Hong Kong, including The Golden Needle: The Biography of Frederick Stewart (1836-1889) ; Hong Kong Invaded! A ‘97 Nightmare ; The Development of Education in Hong Kong, 1841-1897 ; and For the Record and other Poems of Hong Kong .

At Hong Kong Baptist University since 1982, Dr Bickley is Associate Professor in the Department of English Language and Literature. She has also taught at Universities in Lagos, Nigeria; Auckland, New Zealand; and the University of Hong Kong. A long-term adjudicator at the Hong Kong Schools' Speech Festival, she was one of the Adjudicators for the 1999 / 2000 Royal Commonwealth Society Hong Kong Poetry Writing Competition, and one of four voices in the full audio recording of Verner Bickley's anthology, Poems to Enjoy .

The Golden Needle was favourably reviewed by Lord Hurd, former British Foreign Secretary and writer about China; Hong Kong Invaded attracted the support of distinguished scholar Professor I. F. Clarke; and The Development of Education in Hong Kong, 1841-1897 , supported by the Lord Wilson Heritage Trust, is an essential resource for scholars in this area. For the Record and other Poems of Hong Kong was supported by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council and has already been translated into Chinese and a Thai translation has already been agreed.