A Biographical Sketch-Book of Early Hong Kong
ISBN : 978-962-209-742-1
216 pages, 5.5″ x 8.5″
The biographical essays in this book—first published in 1962—give a sharp and fascinating picture of some of the Europeans who helped establish the colony of Hong Kong and lived through its early years. These men (and one woman) worked and lived in times when Hong Kong was plagued by economic depression, piracy, crime and disease. Not surprisingly, in these frontier-like conditions, all kinds and manner of people came to Hong Kong and made their mark. George Endacott, one of colonial Hong Kong’s foremost historians, introduces the whole gamut—from respectable diligent civil servants to drunkards, suspected pirates, the corrupt and the honest. Amongst the subjects are not only Charles Elliott and Henry Pottinger, first administrator and first Governor respectively, but also Charles Gutzlaff, missionary and interpreter for opium traders, William Caine, the first magistrate, known for his ruthless application of flogging to deal with lawlessness, John Davis, a governor apparently universally disliked, and Daniel Caldwell, official interpreter when few Europeans knew any Chinese, who was suspected of conniving with pirates. But there are also several men who became important scholars of Chinese, Thomas Wade of the Wade-Giles Romanisation system, and especially the great sinologist, James Legge.
Hong Kong has always attracted its share of larger-than-life characters, but in this collection of biographies, we have vignettes of an especially varied cast of the worthy and the wicked.