Books by Ilsa Sharp


A View from the Summit

The story of Singapore’s Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. Weaving history, Asian culture, poetry, art and photography together with fascinating insights into the ecology and biology of this uniqe rain forest fragment located at the heart of urban Singapore, authors Ilsa Sharp and botanist Dr Shawn Lum showcase the reserve’s gem-like value.

1996, School of Science, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore; School of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore; 
National Parks Board, Singapore, with Ban Hin Leong Group, Singapore, ISBN 981-00-7961-3.

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Culture Shock! Australia

In this light-hearted guide to Australian ways and lifestyles for the newcomer, visitor or observer, author Ilsa Sharp dissects a unique culture, using research, first-hand experience and sometimes irreverent humour to make sense of it all. 

1992/2003, Times Books International, Singapore, ISBN 981-204-160-5.
Orders - Email:

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The First 21 Years

The story of the Singapore Zoological Gardens, researched and written by Ilsa Sharp on commission from the Zoo. Lavishly illustrated, this large-format book does more than tell the unusual story of this tropical zoo, the exotic animals it houses and the colourful personalities who created it, exploring also the general history and philosophy of zoos and zoo design.

1994, Singapore Zoological Gardens, ISBN 981-00-5674-5.

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Green Indonesia

Photographed by renowned French wildlife photographer Alain Compost and featuring a forward by HRH Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh  as President of the World Wide Fund for Nature, this richly illustrated large-format book with substantial text by Ilsa Sharp, surveys the entire panorama of Indonesia’s extraordinary forests and wildlife, and the Indonesian people’s relationship with them.

1994, Oxford University Press, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, ISBN 967-65-3045-X.

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There Is Only One Raffles, The Story of a Grand Hotel

The first full history to be published of Singapore’s famous Raffles Hotel, founded in 1887 by the Armenian Sarkies Brothers and frequented by writers (Kipling, Maugham, Hesse et al), movie stars, princes and politicians ever since.  Author Ilsa Sharp scoured the libraries and private collections of Great Britain, Southeast Asia and the world to achieve a detailed account of this eccentric grande dame on the old colonial hotel circuit, with a classic chapter on the jazz musicians and other entertainers who graced the old ballroom. She sets the hotel amid the great historical events and social changes of its times, and also in the context of the development of the Southeast Asian tourism industry.

1981/1986, Souvenir Press Ltd, London, ISBN 0-285-62744-9.

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The Singapore Cricket Club

Established in 1852, the Singapore Cricket Club, still housed in its original colonial building, is alive and well today and sits at the hub of dynamic modern Singapore’s central business district. Building on research both in Southeast Asia and in Britain, Ilsa Sharp has written the story of the Club’s significant role in cricket history. Her text also shows how the Club’s evolution has mirrored the social and political development of independent Singapore.

1985/1993, The Singapore Cricket Club, ISBN 981-00-4581-6.

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Just A Little Flutter

Singapore Pools is the national lottery company in Singapore, founded in 1968. Author Ilsa Sharp, supported by Jacintha Stephens, puts the lottery in context by first tracing the roots of Chinese gambling in Singapore back to the nineteenth-century, and then telling the absorbing story of this giant among Singapore companies, with its multi-billion dollar sales turnover.

1998, Singapore Pools Pte Ltd, ISBN 981-04-0163-9.

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Singapore Dog

The first-ever handbook for pet dog-owners in Singapore and Malaysia, written and photographed by Ilsa Sharp in collaboration with Singapore veterinarian Dr Lennie Lee Koon Ann. Its 312 pages cover feeding, training, behavioural problems, the impact of high-rise lifestyles on dogs in Singapore, cultural problems, even how to cope with the death of a beloved dog, tropical diseases, import-export and quarantine regulations of interest to expatriate dog-owners etc. Colourfully illustrated, it also aims to be a lively and amusing read for "armchair" dog-lovers worldwide.

2003, SNP Editions, Singapore, ISBN 981-248-001-3.
Available from Nature’s Niche
Orders :

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Wheels of Change, the Borneo Motors Story

Ilsa Sharp and her Research Assistant Eli Solomon take the reader from the Borneo Company’s birth in 1856, in jungle-swathed Borneo, to the  arrival of the motorcar in Singapore in 1896. They detail the company’s powerfully symbolic shift in 1967 from marketing the British Austin car, in favour of promoting Japan’s Toyota brand.

1993, Borneo Motors (S) Pte Ltd, Singapore, ISBN 981-00-4852-1.


The History of Drew & Napier, 1889-1989

In this centenary history of one of Singapore's oldest and most respected legal firms, Ilsa Sharp profiles the thrills, spills and characters peopling Drew and Napier's history since colonial times, when sweating English lawyers toiled in Singapore's dingy ceiling fan-cooled offices piled high with mouldering brown paper files tied with ribbon.

1990, Drew & Napier, ISBN 981-00-1480-4.

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A Tale of Two Lions, Celebrating Ten Years of The British Alumni (Singapore) 

Britain's ties with Singapore are historic and the countless Singaporeans who still seek an education there keep them fresh. As one Singaporean alumnus says, "It's good to get out of the clutches of parents and learn to be independent" via an education abroad. Ilsa Sharp interviewed alumni extensively to capture their impressions of  their British alma mater.

1997, British Alumni (Singapore), ISBN 981-00-8951-1.

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Citizens of the World

In this private history of the Zecha family, originally of Java, Indonesia, but now scattered across the globe, Ilsa Sharp researched extensively in the Netherlands, the former  Czechoslovakia, Austria, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, to piece together the formerly hidden story of an extraordinary family.

1992, Zecha Holdings Limited, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

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The Journey, Singapore's Land Transport Story

This comprehensive history of land transport in the once tiger-ridden and jungle-clad tropical island nation of Singapore shows how transport policy has shaped a nation – its people, culture, physical layout and economy. Ilsa Sharp paints the drama of elegant colonial bridges, the imposing expressways of a newly independent nation, and the great debate of the 1970s as Singapore took the plunge into an internationally acclaimed underground Mass Rapid Transit rail system. The book puts a human face on it all, detailing personal stories and memories, from cabinet ministers to taxi-cab and bus-drivers.

2005, Land Transport Authority of Singapore / SNP International Publishing Pte Ltd, Singapore, ISBN 981-248-092-7.
Orders :


Winged Invaders: ‘Pest Birds’ of the Asia Pacific

Alien and ‘pest’ bird species are a hot topic worldwide right now, because of the Bird Flu threat. Why are human beings experiencing more trouble than ever in their relationship with wild birds? Authors Ilsa Sharp and Prof. Navjot Sodhi, Associate Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore, explore the historical, philosophical and conservationist dimensions of the role of birds (such as Crows, Mynas, Sparrows etc) in urban and agricultural settings shaped by humans. They also discuss the practical ways that ‘pest’ birds can be managed.

2006, SNP International Publishing Pte Ltd, Singapore, ISBN 981-248-065-X.
Orders :


New books in progress:

Leaving Home - 10 Refugee Women Tell Their Stories - publication December 2006, Western Australia.

The E&O Hotel Story, Pearl of Penang - publication 2007, Singapore/Malaysia.