LING-NAM: Hong Kong, Canton and Hainan Island in the 1880s

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By Paul French
By Benjamin Couch ‘BC’ Henry, introduced and annotated by Paul French
 
No. 3 in the China Revisited series
 
Benjamin Couch “BC” Henry was a missionary in Hong Kong and southern China in the second half of the 19th century. He arrived in 1873 and remained until 1894. Yet he was much more too – a keen observer, a skilled naturalist and an intrepid explorer. His fascination with the flora and fauna of Hong Kong and southern China are obvious throughout the pages of LING-NAM.
 
The bulk of his career in China was spent in what was then commonly known as “Ling-nam”, the Pearl River Delta and environs of Guangzhou. These excerpts of Henry’s travelogue LING-NAM, published in 1886, contain one of the most detailed walking tours of Guangzhou that has survived. Similarly so his travels through the silk, tea and market garden regions adjoining the metropolis. Abd finally, we have Henry’s ground-breaking account of his expeditions around Hainan Island in 1882, then the most extensive undertaken to date by a foreigner. He was also a keen anthropologist interested in the island’s various ethnic groups, such as the Lois, as well as the various languages and dialects of Hainan. Henry’s portrait of southern China was built up over 20 years work and exploration in the region and provides one of the most in-depth looks at southern Chinese life from the growth of Hong Kong, to the bustling streets of Guangzhou, to Hainan’s “Island of Palms”.

“Drifting slowly by a large collection of flower-boats, gay with lamps and mirrors, and richly furnished with black-wood sofas and embroidered curtains… Dire confusion is often created among the slipper-boats, whose anchorage adjoins, by the surging of the steamer against their outer lines, causing them to jump, and sputter, and dart about like a swarm of ants, shell-like craft, whilst they vociferously hurl maledictions at the great steamer.”

 

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ISBN: 9789887554776 Categories: , , Tags: , ,

Description

Benjamin Couch “BC” Henry was a missionary in Hong Kong and southern China in the second half of the 19th century. Yet he was much more too – a keen observer, a skilled naturalist and an intrepid explorer. The bulk of his career in China was spent in what was then commonly known as “Ling-nam”, the Pearl River Delta and environs of Guangzhou. These excerpts of LING-NAM, published in 1886, contain one of the most detailed walking tours of Guangzhou that has survived. Similarly so his travels through the silk, tea and market garden regions adjoining the metropolis.

Henry’s expeditions around Hainan Island in 1882 were then the most extensive undertaken by a foreigner. Henry’s travelogue provides one of the most in-depth looks at southern Chinese life – from the growth of Hong Kong, to the bustling streets of Guangzhou, to Hainan’s “Island of Palms”.

Additional information

Weight 100 g
Dimensions 112 × 182 mm
Pages

116

Binding

Paperback

About the author

The Reverend Dr. Benjamin Couch Henry was born in 1850 near Sharpsburg, Pennsylvania. In November 1873 he set sail for China. He was a missionary, an educator and a scholar who also enjoyed writing up his travels and sketching, as well as engaging in numerous speaking tours. Henry often addressed very large audiences across the United States to raise money for the American Presbyterian Church’s China Mission during his furloughs home from China where he was largely based in Canton (Guangzhou). LING-NAM was first published in 1886.

Paul French, who has introduced and annotated this reprint, was born in London and lived and worked in Shanghai for many years. His book Midnight in Peking was a New York Times bestseller and a BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week. Stories from his Destination Shanghai were serialised on RTHK Radio 3.