Here’s a very China Rhyming post about book covers (and a veiled plug too!) – I came across this cover the other day for the sadly long forgotten (at least by me – I accept there may well be China Rhyming regulars who have course to peruse this book often!) book Hangchow Itineraries by Robert F Fitch (the full text is online here), published by the legendary Shanghai-based house of Kelly & Walsh in 1922. It’s a travel guide to Hangchow (Hangzhou if you must) and opens with the words:
“The purpose of this book is to help those who may come to this City to spend their hours pleasantly, profitably and with the best economy of time. The writer has travelled in a number of parts of China but with the exception of a few towns in North-western Szechwan he has seen no city so beautifully located as is Hangchow. It might be added that there are few cities in China with so many places of historic interest. In this work there has been an attempt to plan out definite itineraries for each day, to indicate them on separate maps, to illustrate some of the more attractive places and to give important facts in such a way that the resident or tourist may not be burdened with unessentials.”
The book caught my eye as clearly in 1922, or thereabouts, the editors at Kelly & Walsh (probably one of my dream jobs – editing books for Kelly & Walsh in 1920s Shanghai) thought “let’s go with a sketch illustration of something quintessentially Chinese.” And so they did.
Ninety years later myself and a group of Hong Kong University Press editors and designers sat down to think of a cover for one of our RAS Shanghai-HKUP China Monographs (I’m the Series Editor for the Monographs) – a biography of Florence Ayscough by Lindsay Shen. And what did we say, “let’s go with a sketch illustration of something quintessentially Chinese.” And so we did.