All things old China - books, anecdotes, stories, podcasts, factoids & ramblings from the author Paul French

Video – Adventures Browsing the Library – How to Find Your Next Book Project

Posted: April 1st, 2023 | No Comments »

A talk for Hong Kong University Library given March 2023 about my work, the stories I find and how libraries, particularly HKUL, have been so crucial to that process. At youtube here

Book #12 on The China Project’s Ultimate China Bookshelf – Wang Shuo’s Playing for Thrills…

Posted: March 31st, 2023 | No Comments »

It’s book #12 on The China Project’s Ultimate China Bookshelf & we’re hitting up Beijing’s liumang (“hooligan”) literature & its greatest exponent, Wang Shuo who was Playing for Thrills in 1989… click here to read…

Black Girl from Pyongyang: In Search of My Identity

Posted: March 30th, 2023 | No Comments »

The amazing autobiography of Monica Macias, Black Girl From Pyongyang….

In 1979, aged only seven, Monica Macias was transplanted from West Africa to the unfamiliar surroundings of North Korea. She was sent by her father Francisco, the first president of post-Independence Equatorial Guinea, to be educated under the guardianship of his ally, Kim Il Sung.

Within months, her father was executed in a military coup; her mother became unreachable. Effectively orphaned, she and two siblings had to make their life in Pyongyang. At military boarding school, Monica learned to mix with older children, speak fluent Korean and handle weapons on training exercises.

After university, she went in search of her roots, passing through Beijing, Seoul, Madrid, Guinea, New York and finally London – forced at every step to reckon with damning perceptions of her adoptive homeland. Optimistic yet unflinching, Monica’s astonishing and unique story challenges us to see the world through different eyes.

The Economist Drum Tower Podcast on Beijing’s Hutongs

Posted: March 29th, 2023 | No Comments »

A great summation of the endagered species that is Beijing’s hutongs way back when, back then, recently, & now from David Rennie of The Economist’s Drum Tower podcast with Matthew Xinyu Hu (& a little Jiang Wen in the background too)….click here to listen

The Festival of Judo, Royal Albert Hall, January 1956

Posted: March 28th, 2023 | No Comments »

On the 28th of January 1956 the Royal Albert Hall in London hosted a Festival of Judo, organised by the London Judo Society…. W/P Sgt Mary Hobbs looks like a copper not to cross!

Two women police officers in London, probably at the time when the uniform style was changing. On the left is Sergeant Mary Hobbs wearing the old style rounded hat, and on the right is Constable Nora Merideth in the new style peaked cap.

Eric Dominy (1918-1992) was a founding member of the London Judo Society and wrote several books on martial arts. Then Corporal George Chew was apparenlty a founder of the RAF Judo Club or Kübukwai was founded in 1941 in Blackpool.

Explaining my new Travel Reprints Series, China Revisited, on Asian Books Blog

Posted: March 28th, 2023 | No Comments »

China Revisited: guest post by Paul French – click here to read…

Some Clever Listerine Advertising from 1924

Posted: March 27th, 2023 | No Comments »

Listerine’s advertising from American newspapers in 1924 playing on their success (reputedly) in China and some Chinas tropes

Artful Subversion: Empress Dowager Cixi’s Image Making – Peng Ying-chen

Posted: March 26th, 2023 | No Comments »

Peng Ying-chen’s Artful Subversion: Empress Dowager Cixi’s Image Making looks fascinating… Especially interested as I wrote a piece last year on Cixi and her American portraitist Katharine Carl for the South China Morning Post weekend magazine… (click here)

Empress Dowager Cixi (1835–1908), who ruled China from 1861 until her death in 1908, is a subject of fascination and controversy, at turns vilified for her political maneuvering and admired for modernizing China. In addition to being an astute politician, she was an earnest art patron, and this beautifully illustrated book explores a wide range of objects, revealing how the empress dowager used art and architecture to solidify her rule.

Cixi’s art commissions were innovative in the way that they unified two distant conceptions of gender in China at the time, demonstrating her strength and wisdom as a monarch while highlighting her identity as a woman and mother. Artful Subversion examines commissioned works, including portrait paintings and photographs, ceramics, fashion, architecture, and garden design, as well as work Cixi created, such as painting and calligraphy. The book is a compelling study of how a powerful matriarch at once subverted and upheld the Qing imperial patriarchy.