Gretchen Liu

Gretchen Liu, née Gretchen Gustafson1 (b. 1951, Minnesota, United States–), is a journalist, author and editor2 of books on local culture, history and architecture.3 She also has a self-confessed obsession with early photographs.4

Early life
Liu, who hails from Minneapolis,5 has a Swedish father and Polish mother.6 She first came to Singapore at the age of 20 as an exchange student.7 She met her first husband, Kishore Mahbubani, during this time.8 They were married on 21 June 1975 in Minnesota.9 Back in the United States, she completed her degree in international relations and history at the University of Minnesota,10 and finished Mandarin studies at Cornell University.11 She returned to Singapore shortly after.12

Liu started work as an editor at Longman, a local publishing firm, before becoming a journalist at the arts and lifestyle section of The Straits Times newspaper from 1979 to 1985.13 She moved into publishing about the local cultural scene while holding parallel positions in heritage institutions such as being the curator of the former Raffles Hotel Museum14 and the curator for Raffles International.15 She was also the chairman of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra Ladies’ League,16 and served as a member of the orchestra’s board till 25 September 2011.17 She has also held public talks on the late local artist Liu Kang18 (who was also her father-in-law)19 and art.20

After the breakdown of her marriage to Kishore,21 she met architect and urban planner Liu Thai Ker, whom she married in 1984.22 She has two children with Thai Ker – daughter Kristin and son Daniel.23 

Works
1984: Pastel Portraits: Singapore’s Architectural Heritage24
1987: One Hundred Years of the National Museum, 1887–198725
1992: Raffles Hotel26
1995: From the Family Album: Portraits from the Lee Brothers Studio, Singapore 1910–1925; Singapore Sketchbook27
1996: In Granite and Chunam: The National Monuments of Singapore28
1997: Raffles Hotel Style29
1999: Singapore: A Pictorial History 1819–200030
2001: Singapore sketchbook131
2003: The house of Tan Yeok Nee: The conservation of a national monument32
2005: The Singapore Foreign Service: The first 40 years33
2006: Raffles Hotel (2nd ed.)34
2008: Ministry of Foreign Affairs HQ and the old Tanglin Officers Mess35
2016: Singapore’s Black and White Houses Notebook.36



Author

Bonny Tan



References
1. Clarissa Oon, “Movers, Shakers and a Whiff of Sweat,” Straits Times, 13 November 1999, 2. (From NewspaperSG)
2. Rebecca Chua, “Pictures of the Past,” Straits Times, 13 September 1986, 1. (From NewspaperSG)
3. Low Kar Chew and Peter K.G. Dunlop, eds., Who’s Who in Singapore (Singapore: Who’s Who Publishing, 2000), 167. (Call no. RSING 920.05957 WHO)
4. Irene Hoe, “Pictures of Old S’pore for Display,” Straits Times, 5 May 1987, 15(From NewspaperSG)
5. Oon, “Movers, Shakers and a Whiff of Sweat.” 
6. Oon, “Movers, Shakers and a Whiff of Sweat.” 
7. Oon, “Movers, Shakers and a Whiff of Sweat.” 
8. Oon, “Movers, Shakers and a Whiff of Sweat.” 
9. “Kishore Mahbubani Marriage and Divorce Records,” MooseRoots.com, accessed 14 July 2017.
10. Oon, “Movers, Shakers and a Whiff of Sweat.” 
11. Low and Dunlop, Who’s Who in Singapore, 167.
12. Low and Dunlop, Who’s Who in Singapore, 167; Oon, “Movers, Shakers and a Whiff of Sweat.” 
13. Oon, “Movers, Shakers and a Whiff of Sweat.” 
14. Lena Senan, “Raffles Revisited,” Straits Times, 28 December 1990, 16. (From NewspaperSG)
15. Teo Pau Lin, “Home as Tem Plate,” Straits Times, 10 October 1999, 10. (From NewspaperSG)
16. Low and Dunlop, Who’s Who in Singapore, 167.
17. “Two New Directors on SSO Board,” Straits Times, 23 September 2011. (From Factiva via NLB’s eResources website)
18. “Happenings – Gigs,” Straits Times, 26 May 2017; “Happenings – Gigs,” Straits Times, 17 October 2015; “Happenings – Films,” Straits Times, 22 February 201. (From Factiva via NLB’s eResources website)
19. “Happenings – Gigs,” Straits Times, 21 April 2017. (From Factiva via NLB’s eResources website)
20. “Liu Kang – A Life in Art,” Straits Times, 16 September 2011, 8. (From NewspaperSG)
21. Low and Dunlop, Who’s Who in Singapore, 167.
22. Kristina Tom, “Feels Just Like a Homecoming,” Straits Times, 23 March 2006, 6. (From NewspaperSG)
23. Tom, “Feels Just Like a Homecoming.” 
24. M. Gretchen, Pastel Portraits: Singapore’s Architectural Heritage (Singapore: Select Books, 1984). (Call no. RSING 722.4095957 PAS)
25. Gretchen Liu, One Hundred Years of the National Museum, 1887–1987 (Singapore: The Museum, 1987). (Call no. RSING 708.95957 LIU)
26. Low and Dunlop, Who’s Who in Singapore, 167.
27. Gretchen Liu, From the Family Album: Portraits from the Lee Brothers Studio, Singapore 1910–1925 (Singapore: Landmark Books, 1995). (Call no. RSING 779.26095957 FRO)
28. Gretchen Liu, In Granite and Chunam: The National Monuments of Singapore (Singapore: Landmark Books; Preservation of Monuments Board, 1996).  (Call no. RSING 725.94095957 LIU)
29. Gretchen Liu, Raffles Hotel Style (Singapore: Raffles Hotel, 1997). (Call no. RSING 647.945957 LIU)
30. Gretchen Liu, Singapore: A Pictorial History 1819–2000 (Singapore: National Heritage Board, 1999). (Call no. RSING 959.57 LIU-[HIS])
31. Gretchen Liu, Singapore Sketchbook (Singapore: Archipelago Press, 2001). (Call no. RSING 959.57 BYF-[HIS])
32. Chan Yew Lih, Heng Chye Kiang and Gretchen Liu, The House of Tan Yeok Nee: The Conservation of a National Monument (Singapore: Winpeak Investment, 2003). (Call no. RSING 725.94095957 CHA)
33. Gretchen Liu, The Singapore Foreign Service: The First 40 Years (Singapore: Editions Didier Millet, 2005). (Call no. RSING q327.5957 LIU)
34. Gretchen Liu, Raffles Hotel (Singapore: Editions Didier Millet, 2006). (Call no. RSING q915.9570613 LIU)
35. Gretchen Liu, Ministry of Foreign Affairs HQ and the Old Tanglin Officers Mess (Singapore: Editions Didier Millet, 2008). (Call no. RSING 725.12095957 LIU)
36. Graham Byfield and Gretchen Liu, Singapore’s Black and White Houses Notebook. (Singapore: Editions Didier Millet, 2016). (Available via PublicationSG)



The information in this article is valid as at 2017 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

 

Subject
Women authors--Singapore
Writers