The Quest of Noel Croucher
Hong Kong’s Quiet Philanthropist
(香港慈善家裘槎傳)
Vaudine England
November 1998
436 pages
6" x 9"
HK$185 (Hong Kong, Macau, Mainland China, and Taiwan only)
US$30 (Other Countries)
Hardback 978-962-209-473-4

Noel Croucher was a legend in his own time – a raconteur, yet a recluse, conventional yet eccentric, extremely rich yet mean to himself. And all the while, he had a secret penchant for philanthropy. From simple beginnings in England, he arrived in Hong Kong at the turn of the century to live through eight decades of change on the China Coast.

Mystery surrounded Noel Croucher. Seen as tight-fisted by some yet loved by others, he endowed Hong Kong with its richest academic charity in The Croucher Foundation. He became Commodore of the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club and chairman of the Stock Exchange. To many he was a throwback to the glory days of empire. Yet he battled prejudice to get ahead in the colony.

That era has now passed. This timely, fresh look at the lives lived on the Coast through Noel Croucher’s life story—brings out the realities of those times.

Hundreds of interviews, thousands of letters and extensive research in Britain and Hong Kong, together with access to the unique Carl T. Smith Collection, combine to make this original story an authoritative and fascinating read.

Vaudine England, a journalist in Hong Kong, Indonesia, the Philippines and Britain, was exploring the homes and archives of Croucher’s friends, years before she knew she would write about them. She earned an M.A. at London’s School of Oriental & African Studies, and has worked for both of Hong Kong’s English-language dailies, the Far Eastern Economic Review, and the BBC World Service.

 

“Taking up the many loose threads of people’s memories, the author weaves them into a larger tapestry. Not only do we have a more complete picture of Croucher’s life, but as its more obscure aspects emerge, it seems that we also find a more fascinating man than perhaps the mythologizers would have us believe Croucher’s extraordinary life is a prism that reveals, in all their myriad colours, the many faces of Hong Kong’s past.” —Dr Elizabeth Sinn, Associate Professor and Deputy Director of the Centre of Asian Studies, The University of Hong Kong