“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”
— Mark Twain

New Paper Republic essay series, Read Paper Republic: Epidemic

Posted: April 10th, 2020 | No Comments »

As Covid19 rampages through the world, China is just emerging from its lockdown and its authors are putting their thoughts about their experiences into writing. Read Paper Republic: Epidemic is a series of translated mini-essays, free-to-view and published every Thursday here.

Yan Geling led off on 9th April, blasting the authorities for hiding the truth. She will be followed on Thursday 16th April by A Yi’s thoughts from a relatively unaffected part of China, and on Thursday 23rd April, by Han Dong’s wry view from a window, behind which he and his wife were locked down for sixty days. And there will be more to follow.

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Chinese Lyrics, translated by Ch’u Ta-Kao, 1937…

Posted: April 9th, 2020 | No Comments »

Originally published in 1937, this book contains a selection of Chinese lyric poetry translated into English by Ch’u Ta-Kao (anyone know anything more about this poet and quite prolific translator?).

The selections are largely taken from the medieval period. A preface by the renowned British anthologist, writer and literary critic Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch (1863-1944) is also included

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The Bespoke Speakers Series – Sojourning in Beijing with Author Paul French and Historian Jeremiah Jenne – April 14th – via Zoom

Posted: April 8th, 2020 | No Comments »

Phew, it’s been a long few weeks, hasn’t it? If you’re slowly starting to feel a little less sluggish, consider joining us on a virtual jaunt to the hutongs of 1930s Beijing as we launch the first season of our online Bespoke Speaker Series. The first session, taking place on Tuesday, April 14th, will be hosted by two of our favorite Old China experts – Paul French and Jeremiah Jenne – who’ll be teaming up to talk about the authors, politicians and famous faces that once called Beijing home.

Between the wars, a motley crew of foreigners that became known as the ‘Peking aesthetes’ resided in the city’s ancient hutong neighborhoods where they wrote novels, studied the language, learnt Chinese painting and even, in some cases, explored what was a surprisingly vibrant gay scene. Our speakers have chosen their favorite ‘original hutong hipsters’ to discuss during this talk, and will spill the beans on the likes of Wallis Simpson and Anna May Wong to boot – giving us a unique glimpse into the lives of the famous foreign residents you didn’t even know had spent time in China.

Harold Acton and Anna May Wong

Author Paul French is one of the best-known chroniclers of old China, having written Midnight in Peking as well as other bestsellers brimming with gangsters, chancers and raffish rogues from the wrong side of the tracks. Jeremiah Jenne is a beloved Beijing-based historian, writer and expert guide who brings the sights of the capital to his life with extensive research and vivid storytelling, as well as being a charismatic commentator on contemporary China.

This talk will be followed by a series of six further sessions from a variety of speakers, taking in a smorgasbord of excellent China-related topics – from true crime cases through to tea-tasting sessions and lessons in how to make your own hand-pulled noodles. We can’t wait to lead tours again, but in the meantime, come and join us online!

This talk takes place online (via Zoom) on Tuesday, April 14th at 7pm China Standard time; 12pm GMT, and costs
80 RMB per attending household. Tickets can be purchased here.
For the full Bespoke Speaker Series program, click here.

FULL ACCESS PASSES covering all 7 talks are also available at a discount and can be purchased here – why not buy one for a friend who’s stuck indoors?

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The Bespoke Speaker Series 2020

Posted: April 8th, 2020 | No Comments »

As the China literary festivals all got cancelled this year and we also lost the Beijing Bookworm to Xi-mania it’s been a rather dry 2020 for literary events. Step forward Bespoke, the travel company based in Beijing and Shanghai, who have organised a series of online events via Zoom this April and May. The whole thing kicks of with myself and Qing historian Jeremiah Jenne talking about the Peking aesthetes between the war (see my next post), but there are lots of other efent on Chinese food, the Great Wall etc…click here for more details….as well as me (also on Murders of Old China) there’s Peter Hibbard on the Cathay Hotel and Victor Sassoon, Jenne on Cixi, and events on martial arts and tea.

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A Quick Plug – a Q&A with me & the Sanlitun Art Group via Tencent…

Posted: April 6th, 2020 | No Comments »

Ttalking old Beijing hutongs, South China pirates and Midnight in Peking with the Sanlitun Art Group (in Chinese) – click here

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Miss Fisher and a parasol

Posted: April 5th, 2020 | No Comments »

It’s been a while since i posted a Chinese parasol picture – and i mist admit to having posted Miss Fisher and her parasols before (here). But now they’ve made a movie – Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Fear, in Egypt, and she’s got a parasol again….

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In the 1918 flu pandemic, not wearing a mask was illegal in some parts of America. What changed?

Posted: April 4th, 2020 | No Comments »

My take for CNN on the East vs West ‘to mask or not to mask’ debate looking at some of the ahistoricism in the arguments from 1918….click here

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Private Doctors of Shanghai, 1936

Posted: April 3rd, 2020 | No Comments »

Back in 1936 some doctors at the higher end of the scale advertised their services to Shanghailanders. Many specialised in those kind of things that are a bit embarassing….about half of them or more are basically Clap Doctors….viva Shanghai!!

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