Dr. Verner Bickley is a writer, author, publisher, educationist and cultural administrator. Until very recently, he was an Honorary Research Fellow at the Centre of Asian Studies (CAS), now renamed the Centre for Humanities and Social Science (incorporating the Centre for Asian Studies) at the University of Hong Kong. He is a Sector/Subject Specialist for the Hong Kong Council for Accreditation of Academic & Vocational Qualifications. He was founding Chairman of the Executive Committee of the English-Speaking Union, Hong Kong, and is now Chairman Emeritus. For a number of years he was Chairman of The Royal Commonwealth Society, Hong Kong, and remains on the RCS Committee.
Along with his wife, Dr. Gillian Bickley, Verner is both co-director of Proverse Hong Kong and co-founder of the International Proverse Prize for unpublished writing.
Verner Bickley’s most recent book, Steps to Paradise and Beyond: Hawaii to China, Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong and elsewhere (2013) follows up the story of his memoirs from Footfalls Echo in the Memory (2010), in which he describes his life as a former British naval officer, Colonial servant, and British Council officer.
Verner was Assistant Director of Education and Director of the Hong Kong Government’s Institute of Language in Education for nine years. Previously, he served as Director of the Culture Learning Institute and Chairman of the Directors of the East-West Center in Hawaii. He was appointed to hold a concurrent appointment as Full Professor of English at the University of Hawaii. He was also President of the Hawaii Branch of the English-Speaking Union.
Earlier in his career, he was a member of the Singapore Education Department and a British Council Officer in Burma (Myanmar), Indonesia and Japan.
Verner Bickley has had extensive radio and television experience with the following stations:
- BBC Far Eastern Station
- NHK in Japan
- Burma Broadcasting Service
- Radio Republik Indonesia
- Radio Malaya (now Radio Singapore).
He was anchorman in a 13-part English language TV series for Cable TV Hong Kong.
Verner Bickley has written more than twenty textbooks and books and numerous articles on international education, language and culture, and language pedagogy. He has also written dozens of scripts for radio and TV, including scripts for the BBC; NHK, Tokyo; Radio Malaya; Radio Republik, Indonesia, and Radio Television Hong Kong (Letter from Hong Kong).
His book, Language and the Young Learner in Hong Kong (2004), is a critical survey of kindergarten education in the SAR.
His book, English for the Office, published by the Commercial Press, is designed specifically to address the needs of Chinese students entering the workplace in China, after completing secondary education.
In 2001, supported by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council, Verner published Searching for Frederick and Adventures Along the Way (Asia 2000), a partly-autobiographical guide to life-writing, focusing in particular upon Dr. Frederick Stewart, the founding Principal of the Central School (now Queen’s College) in Hong Kong.
Verner is the Language Adviser for the whole series, and author of a subset of the series for the Oxford University Press primary English course, On Target, for Hong Kong, China and Thailand.
Verner Bickley studied Speech and Drama under the late Greta Colson. He has directed and acted in Hong Kong theatre productions, including playing John of Gaunt in the Queen’s Café production of Richard II, performed in the Square Peg Theatre.
He also had cameo roles in four films:
- Thunderbolt (with Jackie Chan)
- Bodyguard from Beijing (with Jet Li)
- City of Glass (with Leon Lai)
- The Chinese Box (with Jeremy Irons and Gong Li)
Dr. Bickley has a particular interest in curriculum reform. He was a member of the Ford Foundation Curriculum Development project in Indonesia, and, for some years, was leader of one section of the American team that participated in the five-nation (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Japan and the United States) curriculum development project (“The Pacific Circle”), sponsored by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
Some of Verner Bickley’s books can be ordered from the Proverse Hong Kong distributor: the Chinese University Press: https://cup.cuhk.edu.hk/Proversehk They are also available in bookstores and online from various Hong Kong based and international retailers.
A regular speaker at literary events, in May he joined a panel discussion on “Singapore Education in the Aftermath of War: A Long Look Back” at the Play Den, Arts House, 1 Old Parliament Lane, Singapore.