Dear friends, I am delighted to share the news that the Myrtle Hardcastle Mysteries are going to be translated into Chinese and published in China. I’m excited to welcome Zhejiang Literature & Art Publishing House into Myrtle’s growing international family!
In Myrtle’s day, most Westerners considered China an exotic and mysterious land, despite the fact that they had been a major global player for centuries, supplying trade goods and luxury items to Europe and North America and the rest of the world—just like today! China was home to silk, tea, ceramics, jade, and other goods treasured by the Western market. In 1841, the island of Hong Kong (and later part of the mainland) became a British colony, a situation that would remain for another century and a half. (Read more about this complex history at the Library of Congress.)
Many Victorians’ view of China was filtered through Western eyes—European and American artists, photographers, and travelers who sent back imagery recorded on their journeys. In honor of Myrtle’s new adventure, let’s enjoy a collection of images of 19th and early 20th century China!
Joseph Nash’s painting of the Chinese section at London’s Great Exhibition in 1851 shows Londoners admiring the goods on display, including porcelain, furniture, and hanging lanterns. The seated gentleman in the black cap is a Chinese guide to the exhibit, there to answer visitors’ questions. The exhibition was open to the public, allowing people from all walks of life to see foreign goods usually only available to the wealthy.
For armchair travelers, stereograph views offered glimpses of faraway lands. (Read more: Victorian Stereoscopes)
Fashionistas the world over have always enjoyed admiring the latest trends at home and abroad. These Chinese portraits showcase the popular finery of the day.
As Britain’s Queen Victoria was for her subjects, China’s Empress Dowager of the Qing Dynasty was a subject of rapt public fascination, and portraits of her and her exquisite lifestyle abounded.
I am excited to have my very own export to share with Chinese readers, and I know Myrtle would be proud of the global connection, too. Stay tuned for more updates about the Zhejiang editions!