Western residents of China and their fictional writings, 1890–1914

Young, Jacqueline (2011) Western residents of China and their fictional writings, 1890–1914. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

Due to Embargo and/or Third Party Copyright restrictions, this thesis is not available in this service.
Printed Thesis Information: https://eleanor.lib.gla.ac.uk/record=b2868931


China was subject to increasingly pressing foreign presence and influence from the mid-nineteenth century onwards, but it was never formally colonised. Accordingly, foreign residents of many nationalities occupied an ambiguous position in the country. This was particularly so during the latter decade of the nineteenth and early part of the twentieth centuries, a period of internal unrest, revolution and external wars that saw expatriates either dismissed as irrelevant bystanders in China’s radical process of domestic change, or subject to sporadic but sustained campaigns to rid the country of their presence.

Focusing on fiction written by Western residents of China during the period during 1890–1914, this thesis investigates, from a primarily historicising perspective, the extent to which their ambivalent ‘insider/outsider’ status, and the turbulent political and social conditions that they experienced or witnessed during this time, informed the work that they produced for domestic expatriate or overseas markets. It addresses the fictional output of several expatriate novelists, principally: Homer Lea; Mrs Archibald Little (A.E.N. Bewicke); Charles Welsh Mason; Paul and Veronica King (‘William A. Rivers’); and Bertram Lenox Simpson (‘Putnam Weale’). All produced factual works as well as fiction, and careful examination of their diverse fictional subtexts uncovers points of view often radically at variance with their opinions of record.

Variously involved in social reform work, employed in Chinese government service (in the form of the Chinese Maritime Customs), engaged in criminal enterprise and associated with revolutionaries, these authors were also part of extensive professional, family and friendship networks throughout the country. An examination of their fictional representations of two social concerns – interracial liaisons and footbinding – reveals that in the context of the latter there is a significantly gender-differentiated response; while the Boxer Rebellion and the 1911 republican Revolution prompt both male and female writers to embark on remarkably similar generic explorations of events, as they universally invoke Romantic and Gothic strategies respectively in otherwise diverse works. In their similarities and in their differences, expatriate authors’ literary engagement with revolutions both social and political suggest that the China they sought to portray in fiction was as subtly varied as their own, distinct, personal relationships with the country they called home.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Due to copyright restrictions the full text of this thesis cannot be made available online. Access to the printed version is available.
Keywords: China, expatriate fiction, Victorian
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > English Literature
Supervisor's Name: Radford, Dr. Andrew
Date of Award: 2011
Embargo Date: 20 May 2014
Depositing User: Dr Jacqueline Young
Unique ID: glathesis:2011-2604
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 26 May 2011
Last Modified: 21 May 2014 15:00
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/2604

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