Diaries, Letters, Travel

In Time of War shows how a British naval officer, confined during the Second World War as a Prisoner of War in Hong Kong under Japanese Occupation, engaged his mind during those three and a half years. There are talks he gave to other POWs, drawings and essays. Transcripts from his diary for the year immediately before the Fall of Hong Kong provide fascinating insights, as do correspondence with family and friends and official documents. Photographs and narratives relating to his previous time with the Chinese Maritime Customs Service and descriptions from the time of the Japanese occupation of Kiukiang on the Chinese Mainland provide unusual first-hand information.

Journeys with a Mission: Travel Journals of The Right Revd George Smith (1815-1871) first Bishop of Victoria (Hong Kong) (1849-1865) By: George Smith. Edited by: Gillian Bickley. Introduced with notes by: Gillian Bickley. Supported by: Lord Wilson Heritage Trust. Advance Review: Professor Dr Ruth Hayhoe.

Journeys with a Mission contains annotated uncut transcriptions from archival material of five original narratives or journals of travel, covering visits to China, India, Ceylon, Java and Singapore during the interesting period 1852-1858, undertaken by the Right Revd George Smith, first (Anglican) Bishop of Victoria (Hong Kong), providing a very valuable information resource in two main areas: Protestant (and Roman Catholic) missionary, linguistic, pastoral, medical and educational activity, and the country-situations mainly in China and India at the time. They contain first-hand information about China’s internal, consular and diplomatic events; and vignettes of Indian life and culture just a few years before the Mutiny. The Bishop’s thoughts and reports illuminate ongoing discussion of the relationship between missions and territorial expansion, and clearly show the focus and self-sacrifice of a peace-loving man who truly believed that empire was given for the purpose of carrying Christianity, “in the regions beyond”.

The Right Revd George Smith was adventurous and courageous. He valued unity, loyalty and affection. He understood historical and cultural perspective and could advocate pragmatism. He had an eye for scenery and a soft heart for suffering humanity. He wrote with care, often in an elevated style suggestive of an inspirational sermon. Those with a particular interest in missions and missionaries, particularly the missions to China and India, will find here a rich seam to mine. All will be interested in what is shown of the human condition in different parts of the world, in the evidence of the motivation and perseverance of which individuals are capable in situations of hardship and disappointment, as well as the euphoria of final success. In the 1850s, edited and cut versions of all five pieces were published in the Church Missionary Intelligencer, a publication of the Church Missionary Society. All are presented here in full, with the cut parts restored and editorial changes reversed. The differences are noted. As a result, insights are gained also into the thinking at that time of a major missionary society, still active today.

Through American Eyes by George W. (F.) Heard, ed. Gillian Bickley. Long ago secrets, lost emotions and persistent sadness at human conflict are finally revealed in this first publication of journals written by a young American visiting the Far East for the first time./ Travelling out in 1859 to join his uncle’s then successful trading house, Augustine Heard & Co., George was hired on shipboard by fellow-passenger John E. Ward, the American Minister tasked with the ratification of the American-Chinese treaty. As an attaché to the American Legation, George witnessed the June 1859 Battle of the Peiho, and in July 1860 – now promoted as Secretary of Legation – he saw the western Allies’ preparations for the return battle that took place in August 1860. At least one of his letters home was borrowed to be copied by the American Minister and sent to the US President as an official report. These were early days in the intercourse between the United States and the Far East; a first Treaty with Japan (which George also visited and writes about here) had been agreed only a short time earlier. Some of the Chinese people whom George talked with in villages visited on the way to Beijing had never heard of his country. A cultured, charming and conscientious person, with a sense of humour, an early-developed cross-cultural perspective, and highly readable writing style, George W. Heard died unmarried in his late thirties, and was buried far from home. This book finally brings home his memorial.

London Letters Home by Penelope Pelham West. London Letters Home (1861-1865) of an American Apprentice Preparing for the Far East Tea Trade, Gus Farley Jr. (1844-1899) Author: Penelope Pelham West. Narrated by: Gus Farley Jr. 

“Sent to London to learn the tea trade before going to China to join the family trading business, Gustavus Farley Jr’s letters to his parents and sisters provide unique vignettes from the perspective of a late teenage American expatriate of life in London in the mid-19thcentury. It is interesting to learn through the letters how he adapts to very different surroundings and culture, his views on the American Civil War as seen from the other side of the Atlantic and a flavor of a non-stop voyage from Boston to Hong Kong. The letters are certainly most rewarding to read, both for scholars in various disciplines as well as for general readers.”—George W H Cautherley, OBE, DBA (Hon), Great-great-great grandson of George Washington Heard Sr. and Elizabeth Ann Farley.

All Titles in this Category

A Personal Journey Through Sketching

All Agog in China

All at Sea

Through American Eyes

In Time of War

Journeys with a Mission

Wannabe Backpackers

London Letters Home

Gin’s Tonic

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