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In 1793 the Chinese Emperor rebuffed the first formal British mission to attempt to open China to foreign trade. However, British merchants persisted, and the first treaty ports were opened in 1843. This is the story of treaty port life in China, detailing the lives of merchants and missionaries. One of the first treaty ports was Shanghai, soon a byword for luxury and squalor. Later small enclaves were opened along the Yangtze, cities like Chongqing, and sub-tropical towns like Beihai. Despite typhoons, disease, banditry and riots, merchants and missionary families in the treaty ports enjoyed steeplechases on "China ponies" and shooting parties on Shanghai's mudflats; Chinese cooks learnt to make Christmas pudding and Chinese tailors copied Paris fashions. Many visitors were drawn to the treaty ports, including Noel Coward and Wallis Simpson, Arthur Ransome and W.H. Auden, Peter Fleming and Robert Fortune. Some stayed on, among them Harold Acton, Osbert Sitwell and Robert Byron, who made temporary home amongst Peking's diplomats. Others sought in the treaty ports a refuge from bankruptcy, persecution or imprisonment. In 1943 the treaty ports were returned to China and most of their inhabitants were interned by the Japanese. yet the record of their residence remains in Shanghai's solid office buildings, in Tianjin's mock Tudor facades, and in the Edwardian villas of Beidahei and Xiamen. Through the reminiscences of the last inhabitants of the treaty ports, some of whom are still alive, this book recalls a foreign life lived in a foreign land.
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Frances Wood studied Chinese at the universities of Cambridge, London and Peking, and between 1972 and 1988 travelled extensively in China. She is now Head of the Chinese Collections in the British Library. She is the author of Did Marco Polo Go to China?, also the subject of a Channel 4 documentary, and Handgrenade Practice in Peking: My Part in the Cultural Revolution (John Murray, 2000).Review:
`A first-rate account of one of the more shameful (but never boring) episodes in our imperial history, balanced, superbly written and entertaining.' Sual David, The Times; `An excellent study of the old treaty ports, Hong Kong and Shanghai.' Anthony Sattin, Sunday Times; `Vivid, highly enjoyable and witty . . . Frances Wood has caught the authentic and often pungent flavour of life in the lost world of the treaty ports.' Lawrence James, Daily Mail; `A factual narrative that combines a colourful description of daily life, based on intimate sources such as memoirs and letters, set against a background of diplomatic and military events of the time . . . a superb book.' George Walden, Evening Standard
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Book Description John Murray Publishers Ltd, 1998. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0719557585
Book Description Condition: New. New. Seller Inventory # STR-0719557585