Roving Through Southern China: An American’s Explorations of Hong Kong, Macao and Canton in the early 1920s

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By Paul French
By Harry Franck, introduced and annotated by Paul French
 
No. 4 in the China Revisited series
 
In the 1920s the American travel writer Harry A Franck was known to readers as the “Prince of Vagabonds”. His wanderings were family affairs and he arrived in southern China in 1923 with his wife, their two young children and his mother. Franck always claimed that his travel plans were random, subject to chance encounters and whatever caught his eye.
 
He arrives in a Hong Kong which is building modern department stores and large houses while labourers sleep on straw mats beside the harbour. In Macao he visits temples, ancient forts and, of course, casinos. And then to Canton (Guangzhou), a city in flux where new buildings are transforming the waterfront, the ancient city walls are being demolished, and the traditional rookeries of small lanes are being replaced by wide asphalt roads as the city rapidly modernises. Franck also provides us with a highly detailed description of Shamian Island a year after the tumultuous strikes and boycotts that meant naval gunboats and barbed wire still protected the small foreign enclave.

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Description

In the 1920s the American travel writer Harry A Franck was known to readers as the “Prince of Vagabonds”. His wanderings were family affairs and he arrived in southern China in 1923 with his wife, their two young children and his mother. Franck always claimed that his travel plans were random, subject to chance encounters and whatever caught his eye.

He arrives in a Hong Kong which is building modern department stores and large houses while labourers sleep on straw mats beside the harbour. In Macao he visits temples, ancient forts and, of course, casinos. And then to Canton (Guangzhou), a city in flux where new buildings are transforming the waterfront, the ancient city walls are being demolished, and the traditional rookeries of small lanes are being replaced by wide asphalt roads as the city rapidly modernises. Franck also provides us with a highly detailed description of Shamian Island a year after the tumultuous strikes and boycotts that meant naval gunboats and barbed wire still protected the small foreign enclave.

Additional information

Weight 100 g
Dimensions 112 × 182 mm
Pages

112

Binding

Paperback

About the author

Harry Alverson Franck was born in 1881 in Munger, Michigan into a blacksmithing family of German heritage. His lifelong wanderlust seems to have set in early. He left the University of Michigan to see Europe in 1900, working his passage across the Atlantic on a cattle boat. After graduating, Franck spent 16 months circling the globe. He worked his passage in various ways and walked across the Malay peninsula to some press attention.
His initial East Asian travels were recounted in “Wandering in Northern China” (1923). He then travelled to Japan and Taiwan for “Glimpses of Japan and Formosa” (1924), before heading to southern China, Hong Kong and Macao for “Roving Through Southern China” (1925). Franck sent despatches to American newspapers as he travelled to ensure an income while on the move. He was often billed as “Harry A Franck – The Prince of Vagabonds”.

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.