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

My Latest SCMP Long Read – The Last Empress Wanrong & her American Tutor Isabel Ingram…

Posted: April 3rd, 2024 | No Comments »

My latest piece for the South China Morning Post weekend magazine is now online – China’s final imperial ruler had his British tutor, Reginald Johnston. Less is known about Puyi’s wife Wanrong and her American tutor, Isabel Ingram…click here

RAS China Zoom Event – Bill Lascher on A Danger Shared, the Previously Unpublished Photogeraphy of Mel Jacoby – April 3 2024

Posted: April 2nd, 2024 | No Comments »

RASBJ online event about the book A Danger Shared. Curator and author Bill Lascher reveals previously unpublished photos of WWII China and other parts of Asia by war correspondent Melville Jacoby. Wednesday, April 3, 2024 at 8:00-9:00 PM Beijing Time – via Zoom.

MORE ABOUT THE EVENT: See selections of striking, previously unpublished photographs of wartime China, Vietnam, the Philippines, and beyond taken by the American foreign correspondent Melville Jacoby while reporting from Asia during World War II. U.S.-based author Bill Lascher will discuss Jacoby and a new book featuring more than 300 of his photographs: A Danger Shared: A Journalist’s Glimpses of a Continent at War (Blacksmith Books). Lascher — who archived, digitized, and curated Jacoby’s images — wrote the introduction and accompanying text for A Danger Shared. He will discuss how he wove scenes of bombed classrooms, anxious refugees, and exhausted soldiers with images of everyday friendship, toil, and commerce into a visual chronicle of Asia’s experience of war and of humanity’s persistence amid a cataclysmic historical moment as witnessed by Jacoby. Beyond Jacoby’s photos, RASBJ members and guests will see samples of film footage he shot during his travels in China, Japan, and beyond and hear selections from his wartime radio broadcasts. Lascher, whose grandmother was Jacoby’s cousin, had previously told Jacoby’s captivating personal story in the critically acclaimed 2016 book, Eve of a Hundred Midnights; he will also describe how he returned to these extraordinary materials to call new attention to a story Jacoby felt was so important that he risked his life to share it with the world.

HOW MUCH: Free for RASBJ members. RMB 50 for members of RAS branches in London, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Seoul. RMB 100 for non-members. You may find payment by Alipay easier than via Wechat. You can also pay by credit card. Interested in becoming an RASB member? Please sign up at

HOW TO JOIN THE EVENT: Please click “Register” or “I will attend” before April 1 and follow the instructions. After successful registration you’ll receive a confirmation email with a link to join the event online. If you seem not to have received it, please check your spam folder.

MORE ABOUT THE SPEAKER: Bill Lascher is an American author who crafts stories about people, history, and place through immersive narrative nonfiction and meticulous research. His books include A Danger Shared: A Journalist’s Glimpses of a Continent at War (Blacksmith Books, 2024), The Golden Fortress: California’s Border War on Dust Bowl Refugees (Chicago Review Press, 2022), and Eve of a Hundred Midnights: The Star Crossed Love Story of Two World War II Correspondents and Their Epic Escape Across the Pacific (William Morrow, 2016). Lascher’s writing, audio storytelling, and photography appear in print, radio, podcast and digital platforms, such as Atlas Obscura, Fortune, The Guardian, Portland Monthly, Oregon Public Broadcasting, and American History Tellers. Originally from California, he now resides with his family in the U.S. city of Portland, Oregon.

Zimingzhong – Clocks from the Forbidden City at London’s Science Museum

Posted: April 1st, 2024 | No Comments »

An absolutely fascinating exhibitioon of several dozen elabroate French and British made mechanical clocks given to various Chinese emperors and from the collection in the Forbidden City. On at London’s Science Museum until June 2 – admission ‘pay what you can’ – more details here.

Wattis Fine Art Hong Kong – “The Chater Collection” Remembered 

Posted: March 31st, 2024 | No Comments »

A new exhibition at Wattis Fine Art on Hong Kong’s Holywood Road…

“The Chater Collection” Remembered 

Pictures relating to China, Hongkong, Macao, Canton 1655-1860

Tuesday 2nd April 2024 to Friday 3rd May 2024

Bai et Ile de Hong Kong – Bay and Island of Hong Kong (1838) 1842, Auguste Borget, (1808-1877)


20 Hollywood Road, 2/F, Central, Hong Kong

Tel. +852 2524 5302  E-mail.

Chinese silver matchbox holder, c.1900

Posted: March 30th, 2024 | No Comments »

A Chinese silver matchbox holder with engraved bamboo decoration to each side, c.1900, stamped CJ for the China Jewellery Company, active in Shanghai between 1875 and 1920.

Fighting Crickets of Peiping, 1937

Posted: March 29th, 2024 | No Comments »

The world of 1937 Peking cricket fighting as captured by John Dorsett for National Geographic magazine

two crickets prepare to do battle
Comfy life with a bean, a water trough and a food rack!

The Ultimate China Bookshelf #46: Ma Bo’s Blood Red Sunset

Posted: March 28th, 2024 | No Comments »

#46 is up – A Memoir of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, published in 1995. Blood Red Sunset (translated by Howard Goldblatt) is the memoir of a former Red Guard, a Beijing boy who heads to Inner Mongolia to help the peasants in 1968. However, the Cultural Revolution he supports turns against him. He is arrested, tortured, jailed, and betrayed by his best friend and branded a counterrevolutionary before being sent into internal exile in Inner Mongolia during the last years of the Cultural Revolution. There are side plots about the author’s martial arts prowess and his infatuation with a girl. It’s fair to say that not everyone liked Blood Red Sunset. It divided opinion among readers with many finding it too personal, and too divorced from history.

The China Ultimate Bookshelf is now available fortnightly on Kaiser Kuo’s Sinica Substack….

Fleming’s Thrilling Cities – a New Edition

Posted: March 27th, 2024 | No Comments »

Just noticed there’s a new edition of Ian Fleming’s Thrilling Cities (inc his trips to Hong Kong, Macao & Tokyo) from The Ian Fleming Publications….