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

Sassoon Portraits – Glyn Philpot: Flesh and Spirit – Pallant House, Chichester

Posted: August 12th, 2022 | No Comments »

Pallant House in Chichester currently has an excellent retrospective of the work of the rather overlooked English artist Glyn Philpot (1884-1937). The whole exhibition is well worth visiting if you find yourself in West Sussex before the end of October 2022 (details here). For those who follow the Sassoon’s and various Sassoon-related posts the exhibition includes Philpot’s portraits of both Philip Sassoon (1914) and Siegfried Sassoon (1917).

Philip Sassoon
Siegfried Sassoon
Glyn Philpot – selpf portrait (1908)

Carl Crow’s 400 Million Customers (1937) – in Chinese

Posted: August 11th, 2022 | No Comments »

This came out earlier this year from Jinzhou Press after some covid-related delays and I just received my copies – Carl Crow’s 1937 bestseller Four Hundred Million Customers: The Experiences – Some Happy , Some Sad of an. American in China, and What They Taught Him in Chinese (and with a little introduction to Chinese readers from me). The internal illustrations are from the original book and by the Russian emigre artist and good friend of Carl’s Sapajou; the cover is from the Austrian refugee artist, Frederick Schiff…


Shanghai 2004-2019 – by Steve Sorec

Posted: August 10th, 2022 | No Comments »

A new photo book of Shanghai in the earlier 2000s that catches a number of places now sadly destroyed as the Philistine city cadres wipe its previous incarnations off the map and into oblivion…You can buy Steve Sorec’s book here


A New Podcast – Carry on Kidnapping – All This Week on RTHK3

Posted: August 6th, 2022 | No Comments »

NEXT WEEK on RTHK3’s Morning Brew..

On-air, online, on Facebook live (and later on the RTHK podcast site), New York Times best selling author Paul French is back, with the story of one of the most bizarre, chaotic, haphazard, and slightly comical kidnappings of 1930s China – the snatching of 19 year old Muriel ’Tinko’ Pawley (along with her dogs Whisky, Rolf, and Squiffy. Plus, a rather daft old Etonian chum) outside Yingkou in 1932. It made headlines around the world when Tinko demanded soap and lipstick be sent. Even Evelyn Waugh was obsessed with the unfolding events, and the ruthless bandits who kidnapped Tinko were nearly driven mad by her.

Starts Monday August 8 2022 HK time at 11.10am…


The Chinese Circle of Belsize Park in the Camden New Journal

Posted: August 5th, 2022 | No Comments »

Chiang Yee, Hsiung Shih-I, Dymia Hsiung, Wang Lixi, Lu Jingqing, Xiao Chen, back on their old North London manor, and all in the Camden New Journal. A review of the new essay collection, Chiang Yee and His Circle, (in which I have an essay on Chiang Yee’s life and work during WW2). And, you can still listen to my BBC Radio 3 documentary on all these characters and their London lives – A Chinese Odyssey….


Elizabeth Keith – East Gate, Seoul, Sunrise – 1921

Posted: August 4th, 2022 | No Comments »

Elizabeth Keith (1887-1956) is one of the many intersting female artists who worked in East Asia in the first half of the twentieth century I’ve mentioned in passing several times – here in a South China Morning Post long read on the contemporaneous artist Katharine Jowett and here in my book Destination Peking in a chapter on another contemporaneous artist of Keith’s, Bertha Lum. Both Jowett and Lum worked largely in Peking and northern China though also studied and spent time in Japan and were deeply influenced by Japanese woodcut techniques.

Elizabeth Keith (left, standing) with her sister in Tokyo

Keith, originally from Scotland, travelled extensively throughout Japan, China, Korea and the Philippines. She visited Tokyo in 1915 and stayed for nine years before visiting other Asian countries, including notably Korea. After a trip to Korea around 1921 she brought some watercolors back and exhibited them in Tokyo – the painting below is, I believe one of that collection. Keith returned to Britain in 1924.

Anyway, this Japanese style woodblock print in colour of ‘East Gate, Seoul, Sunrise’ dates to 1921 and is soon up for auction. Keith’s work rarely appears for sale nowadays. The auction is on September 7 2022, if you’re interested, and you can bid online – click here.


We Hear News of “Flappers” in 1924 Peking…

Posted: August 3rd, 2022 | No Comments »

Apparently so…bare legs and jazz!! Well, maybe on the roof of the Grand Hotel de Pekin, the lobby of the Wagons-Lits and probably overseas Chinese or returning from Paris, but few and far betwen i’d venture…


Talking L Ron Hubbard in China and some forthcoming history books on RTHK3

Posted: August 2nd, 2022 | No Comments »

Bantering with Phil Whelan on RTHK3’s Morning Brew about L Ron Hubbard’s 1920s China adventures (available on the SCMP website) & some forthcoming autumn history books from Peter Harmsen and Adam Brookes. They kindly broke the show up into segments, scroll to the end, click here

L Ron Hubbard – pushing out the pulps in the 1930s