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

The China Digest, Spotlite and Carroll Prescott Lunt in the Solitary Island

Posted: August 21st, 2014 | 5 Comments »

When I compiled my history of the foreign press in Shanghai (Through the Looking Glass: China’s Foreign Press Corps from Opium to Mao – in English here and Chinese here) I didn’t include the China Digest. As far as I know (and I don’t know much) the Digest was edited by an American, Mr. Carroll Prescott Lunt (born 1889), and was published after the Sino-Japanese War had broken out in Shanghai during the “Solitary Island” period” (1937-1941). Lunt was notoriously pro-Japanese, a regular visitor to Japan after 1937 and who had briefly edited the pro-Tokyo Far Eastern Review in Peking and was also one of the editors of the China’s Who’s Who. Lunt had previously been a poetry buff, publishing a novel called His Chinese Idol in 1921 (which got a rotten review in the New York Times) and then a collection of translated Chinese poetry, Jade Chips, in the 1920s. He also published a self-help book, How to Live with Epilepsy The magazine was generally considered to be pro-Japanese and was supported largely by adverts from Japanese companies in Shanghai during its run. Spotlite was an incorporated supplement within the Digest I believe. It was generally considered to be well edited and printed fetauring news articles from a variety of foreign media in Asia, Europe and America. It declared itself neutral though observers at the time (including the influential China Critic publication) questioned this, given its advertising base.

Spotlite had its offices at No.18 Bund. No.18 was the Chartered Bank of India Building, home to what is now Standard Chartered Bank (built 1923) and now a confection of ridiculously over-priced shops and restaurants. While the magnificent staircase still exists the vast majority of the interior has been long gutted to provide a home to nonsense like Bar Rouge and other wanna-be locations.

Spotlite headed paper 1939

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5 Comments on “The China Digest, Spotlite and Carroll Prescott Lunt in the Solitary Island”

  1. 1 Me woody said at 3:59 pm on April 20th, 2016:

    Looking for information on a novel called “two chinese families ” by Carroll Lunt

  2. 2 paul French said at 5:05 pm on April 20th, 2016:

    sorry – know Lunt’s His Chinese Idol (1921) and Star of Asia’s Drama, Some Treaty Port Builders of China, his poetry translations (Jade Chips) and a book on living with epilepsy but not the one you refer to I’m afraid

  3. 3 Roy Delbyck said at 10:58 pm on May 29th, 2016:

    Hi Paul, I just came across William and Jesse Lunt, both American, who were married in China in the 1880s. I believe 1888. He was a Yangtze River boat pilot. She lived until 1963 and was active in Shanghai life until returning to the US in 1941. They had 2 kids. Lunt is not that common a name, so I guess reasonable to assume that Carroll is one of their kids. I have come across another book of Carroll’s — China Star of Asia’s Drama published in 1941.

  4. 4 Susan Woody said at 8:21 pm on July 10th, 2017:

    Husband commented last year. We are trying to locate a published work titled “two Chinese families” by Carroll Lunt because we have the manuscript for it. Having been looking for over a year now, we are beginning to believe it never got published. We have no idea what to do now. Who is interested in unpublished manuscripts by published Aurora?

  5. 5 Susan Woody said at 8:23 pm on July 10th, 2017:

    Above comment has typo. Last word is Aurora, should have been authors.
    So sorry.
    Any advise, guidance, recommendations, much appreciated. Direct email will likely get noticed faster.
    Thanks so much!

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