Expat fiction, 1890-1911

Normally I would just post a link, but the very bad HTML on the Web page I got this from renders the entire section as one long, unreadable paragraph.

by Steven Hardy

During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, several British and American expatriates living in China and Hong Kong wrote works of fiction set in China. While some of the works these authors wrote were published at “home,” a significant number were published by expatriate publishing companies in Shanghai or Hong Kong. It seems likely that those works published in Asia were written primarily for the expatriate audience, not for the home audience (which is unlike the more usual model of expatriate literature, where authors write about the foreign place to explain it to those at home). Steven Hardy, a graduate student at the University of Minnesota, has been examining these works of expatriate fiction written for the expatriate audience, beginning with works published in the 1890s, and ending with works published in 1911 (the end of the Qing Dynasty). He has identified around eighty works (mostly short stories) written by sixteen authors during this time period.

Though a few of these works only have Chinese characters in them, most deal with the concerns of the expatriate community. Some have no Chinese characters, but the majority have both Chinese and Westerners as characters, and the cultural conflicts between the two groups are often explored. Frequently, these conflicts involve male/female relationships, and these relationships usually fail.

Andrew, Sophia.
Mrs. Andrew, who lived in Hong Kong, published under the pseudonym “Lulu,” though, according to a review in the Shanghai newspaper the North China Daily, her real identity was well-known.
Not so Black as They Painted Her, and Other Stories. Hong Kong: Walter W. Brewer, 1895. The book is made up of eight short stories, not all of which were set in Asia.

Brady, S. E.
The Jewel in the Lotus and Other Stories. Shanghai: The Oriental Press, 1905. The title story is about a Tibetan jade caver’s return to Tibet to be reunited with the woman he loves; along the way, he has to abandon his recently-made fortune due to severe weather conditions, but he saves the “jewel in the lotus,” a piece of jewelry he has purchased as a gift to his beloved. Other stories include “Little Mertens,” about a German man who is living with a Chinese mistress who slowly kills him; “A Thing Apart,” about a young British woman of poor reputation and her unfaithful British boyfriend; and “With the Aid of White Poppies,” a story involving two Chinese men, friends and rivals since childhood, who marry sisters-one sister is mistreated by her husband, leading to her suicide, which prompts the other man to murder the wife-beating husband. In “The Reason Why,” an expatriate women in Shanghai married to an unfaithful husband (he has a Chinese mistress) explains why she decided not to run off with a younger man who asked her to leave. “The Pride of Fu Hsing” is about a Peking tailor who pretends to be a Christian in order to get foreigners as customers; he murders his leprosy-infected uncle because he fears that customers won’t visit his shop if they find out that there is leprosy in his home.

Cole, Donna Rieta Bramhall
Mrs. Cole, an American, published her books using the pseudonym D. R. C.
Lui Sing and Other Stories. Shanghai: Kelly & Walsh, 1907.
Poppy Petals. Yokohama: Kelly and Walsh, 1910.
Each book is a collection of short stories, but many of the characters carry over from one story to another (and from book to book); a minor character in one story might be the major story in another book. Most of the stories are about Britons and American who are spies for Russia; like the characters in Kipling’s Kim, these characters are playing the “great game.” Several characters are Asians who grew up in Briton or America, but feel the “call of their blood” and return to the country of their birth, and give up Western ways. Several romances successfully cross racial and cultural barriers.

Dalziel, James Jr.
Dalziel was probably a ship’s engineer.
Chronicles of a Crown Colony. Hong Kong: South China Morning Post Office, 1907.
A collection of short stories; not yet seen.
Dalziel also wrote two books published in London. In the First Watch, and Other Engine-Room Stories was published by T. Fisher Unwin in 1907, and it contained 14 short stories set on board steam ships in East Asia. High Life in the Far East: Short Stories, was published in 1909.

Denby, Jay
The author describes himself as a “Shanghai griffin,” which means he was in his first year of living in China; he worked as a clerk in a trading company.
Letters of a Shanghai Griffin. Shanghai: China Printing Co., 1910. (The book was published in London in 1911 as Letters from China and Some Eastern Sketches, and republished in in Shanghai in an expanded edition in 1923.) The letters of the title are letters from the author to his father; in them, he attemps to give a humorous account of his first year in Shanghai. After the letters are eight short stories, some of which are set in China, but most of these are only marginally connected to China.

D’Oliver, Leonard
Mr. D’Oliver, a Briton, published under the pseudonym “Dolly.” He was the Chief Officer on the steamer “Kut Sang,” the newest, most up-to-date ship in the fleet of the Indo-China Steam Navigation Company (a subsidiary of Jardine Matheson), and he lived aboard the ship. Hong Kong was the ship’s home port.
China Coasters. Hong Kong: Kelly & Walsh, 1903.
This work contains seven short stories and one poem; all the short stories but one are set aboard ships in East Asia. Most of the stories are only tangentially connected to China.

Tales of Hong Kong in Verse and Story, 1891. In 1902, published as Hongkong in Verse and Story. Hong Kong: Kelly & Walsh, 1902. Not yet seen.

Paul the Pretender: A Romance of Hong Kong. Shanghai: Shanghai Times, 1912. A novel. Not yet seen.

The Vampire Nemesis and Other Weird Stories of the China Coast was not published in China or Hong Kong, but by in Bristol by J. W. Arrowsmith in 1905. It contains four stories; most of the characters are expatriates, and supernatural events occur in all four stories.

Giles, Elise Williamina Edersheim
Mrs. Giles published her China works under the name Lise Boehm. She was the second wife of Henry A. Giles, who spent almost 27 years in the British Consul Service in China. Mr. Giles adapted the Wade system of romanizing Chinese; the system came to be known as the Wade-Giles system, and it was used in the West extensively until the development of pinyin. Mrs. Giles is among the most prolific of those expatriates who wrote stories set in China.
China Coast Tales. Hong Kong and Shanghai and Singapore: Kelly & Walsh, 1892-1906. China Coast Tales is made up of 10 works, ranging in length from short story to short novel. These 10 works were published in six volumes (the first four volumes had two stories in each, while the last two contained one story each). Two of the stories were originally serialized in Shanghai’s North China Daily in 1890 and 1891 (one chapter per week).

No. 1: “Dobson’s Daughter.” 1892.
The daughter of the title is the illegitimate daughter of a trader and his former Chinese mistress; this novella shows how she is treated by the leaders of English society in Foochow when the trader brings her-as a young adult-to Foochow. Some want to snub her, while others want to embrace her.

No. 2: “Of the Noble Army.” 1892.
This short story is about a very devoted Baptist missionary who shakes up the lives of the very un-devoted missionaries he joins; they scheme to tame his devotion. Another important character is a former devoted missionary who has given up Christianity, and who is now trying to get Christian converts to reject Christianity. The story is an unrelentingly harsh satire on missionaries and their activity.

No. 3: “In the Sixties,” 1897.
This novella is about a young man who, after being in Shanghai for several years, returns to England to marry his betrothed, even though he has fallen in love with a woman in Shanghai (who advises him to marry the girl in England). He brings his pious wife to Shanghai, and she does not fit in with Shanghai society. He begins an affair with his old Shanghai flame (who has married an old, wealthy trader) in Shanghai begin an affair.

No. 4: “Playing Providence,” 1897.
In this short story, the meddling wife of the Customs Commissioner interferes in the life of a Customs employee who was trying to hide from his past.

No. 5: “Coming Home,” 1899.
“Coming Home” is a short story about an expatriate’s readjustment to life in Scotland. While there, he meets woman he’d known in China (someone who had made fun of him when he was a newn arrival there there), and almost marries her (they have their China experience in common), but instead marries the girlfriend of his youth (who is now beneath him socially).

No. 6: “Peter Wong,” 1899. Originally published in North China Daily in 1891 as The Revenge of Peter Wong).
A missionary’s daughter is engaged to a Chinese Christian named Peter Wong; a British trader works to break up the match, and succeeds.

No. 7: “Two Women,” 1903.
One of the women is Marion Lawson, who meets and falls in love with Stephen Walford. He falls in love with her, but he has had a Chinese lover, and has had two children by her. Marion refuses to marry him, because she believes he is marrid to the Chinese woman in the eyes of God. Stephen takes up with another Chinese lover, and ends up losing his job (and others) because of drink. The new lover stays with Stephen through all his difficulties; he has difficulty finding work, and eventually dies. His lover commits suicide.

No. 8: “A-Kuei,” 1903.
The title character in this story with a rather complicated plot is a talented Chinese boy who is the favorite of a rich English female missionary; when he grows up, she pays for him to be educated as a doctor in England. Though all recognize his intellect and talent, most see his real nature: he is dishonest, arrogant, and manipulative. The missionary arranges for him to marry an English girl, Lizzie; A-Kuei and Lizzie return to China and settle in a very remote area. They have a daughter. A-Kuei tries to kill Lizzie, and thinks he succeeds; he tells everyone that she and the child have died in a fire. He then begins to pursue another English girl, who is about to marry him before Lizzie and her daughter appear (they had escaped the fire, unbeknownst to A-Kuei). Lizzie becomes interested in an English doctor, but he rejects her for someone else (the person pursued by A-Kuei). Lizzie is sent back to England, and on her way home, she learns from a newspaper that A-Kuei has been killed, and though she rejoices in his death, she drowns both her daughter and herself.

No. 9: “The Acting Third Assistant: A Tale of the Tientsin Massacre,” 1905.
The Third Assistant (in the Customs) is a haughty Scot who alienates all members of the foreign community except the errant son of an English Lord and his French wife. The French woman gets involved with smuggling arms from Shanghai to Tientsin to sell them to Chinese, and uses the Acting Third Assistant to get them through Customs. The Acting Third Assistant’s fiancee arrives from Briton, and just then the Tientsin Massacre breaks out. The errant son and his wife are both killed when the missionaries and others die in the Tientsin Massacre, but their son survies (the arms she had smuggled are used to kill her and the other foreigners). The hero confesses all to his fiancee, and they decide to rear the orphanaged son.

No. 10: “Formosa: A Tale of the French Blockade of 1884-85,” 1906. Originally published in North China Daily in 1890.
This short novel is about an affair between the new wife of a British Consul and the married Commissioner of Customs; the Consul’s wife is a former dancer who is rejected by the other expatriate women in the port. The events occur during the time of the French Blockade, but the Blockade is not the subject of the novel.