Forgotten Souls

A Social History of the Hong Kong Cemetery


Patricia Lim

ISBN : 978-962-209-990-6

History Royal Asiatic Society Hong Kong Studies Series (皇家亞洲學會香港研究叢書)

January 2011

624 pages, 6″ x 9″

  • HK$420.00

This book follows on from the mapping and recording of the about 10,000 graves that make up the Hong Kong Cemetery for a database which will be held in the archives of the Hong Kong Memory Project and the Royal Asiatic Society among other places. The silent tombs and elegantly carved inscriptions dating from 1842 up to the present day aroused curiosity in the author about who these long-buried people were and how they lived their lives. Lim has teased out from many sources the answers to these questions. This small, alien and rather disparate band of adventurers came from a number of far distant countries to live and work in the tiny and insignificant British foothold of Hong Kong on the edge of a huge and little understood empire. The book tries to show their relationships with each other and with their Chinese neighbours on the island. It has attempted to breathe life into the stories behind the gravestones so that the Hong Kong Cemetery can be viewed as a cradle of history as well as a final resting place for the dead.

Patricia Lim has lived in Hong Kong for more than thirty years. She studied at Cambridge University and had a long and happy career teaching English, History and Latin in various schools.

“Meticulous in its research, far-reaching in its scope and beautifully evocative in its descriptions, Forgotten Souls is a wonderful addition to the history of Hong Kong. It will be read with relish by anyone interested in what made Hong Kong the place it is today.” —Rob Gifford, NPR Shanghai Correspondent and author of China Road

“A highly novel approach to Hong Kong’s history, impressively researched and filled with fascinating characters and insights into the territory’s history.” —Jonathan Fenby, author of The Penguin History of Modern China

“For the historian or genealogist, Patricia Lim’s exhaustive cataloguing of the Hong Kong Cemetery is both comprehensive and easy to use. For the curious and intrigued who’ve ever passed the Cemetery and wondered who lies within, Forgotten Souls is a wonderful collection of facts, anecdotes and lost Hong Kong tales.” —Paul French, author of The Old Shanghai A–Z

“Patricia Lim turns a tour of the Cemetery into a tantalizing historical journey, rediscovering the many individuals whose lives—even the most fleeting and obscure—reflect significant developments and provide a nuanced understanding of Hong Kong’s past. A solid database and a riveting good read—a winning combination!” —Elizabeth Sinn, University of Hong Kong