Title: 1919 - 1920 ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPT DIARY HANDWRITTEN BY AN AMERICAN GIRL LIVING IN CHINA MERE MONTHS AFTER THE MAY FOURTH MOVEMENT AND REVOLUTION
Book Condition: Good+
Size: 24mo - over 5" - 5¾" tall
Publisher: TIENTSIN CHINA  1919
Seller ID: 0002209
On offer is a super, original manuscript relic of one young, unidentified wealthy American girl's trip and times living in China for over a year during a hugely critical juncture in China's history in the early 20th Century. Mere months after as one online source provides: 'The May Fourth Movement (Wusì Yùndòng) was an anti-imperialist, cultural and political movement growing out of student demonstrations in Beijing on May 4, 1919, protesting the Chinese government's weak response to the Treaty of Versailles, especially allowing Japan to receive territories in Shandong which had been surrendered by Germany after the Siege of Tsingtao. These demonstrations sparked national protests and marked the upsurge of Chinese nationalism, a shift towards political mobilization and away from cultural activities, and a move towards a populist base rather than intellectual elites. Many political and social leaders of the next decades emerged at this time. The term "May Fourth Movement" in a broader sense often refers to the period during 1915-1921 more often called the New Culture Movement'. Using a 5 year diary the author does not follow convention by beginning in July 1919 to the year's end, doubles back and writes full pages or half pages later for 1920. While unknown she leaves many clues and is no doubt part of the extended American Diplomatic family in China at the time, she leaves her home of New York August 28, 1919 traveling through Chicago, Wyoming, Nevada and the Rocky Mountains, before stopping in San Francisco, California where she is hosted by friends, our author discovers that there is "no place as beautiful as USA". Obviously from a well-connected and wealthy family, the author experiences California and her first ride on an airplane before setting sail for Asia September 10, 1919. She reaches Tokyo in late September, travels through Shimonoseki and stops for a few days in Seoul and Antung, Korea. Finally, in October, she reaches Munkden, Mancurhia and then her final destination of Tientsin, China. The author doesn't just gloss over the cities she explores: she writes in depth describing the culture and visuals she experiences in delightful detail. For example, her Memoranda about Korea: "big straw hats mean mourning for parents, white costumes and white straw hats mourning for emperor, little black hats set high on head sign of caste. Women very neat - blue and pink dresses. Red flowers growing on roofs of houses. Clothes look like cross between kimono and Chinese dress. Antung on Yalu River - border between Korea and Manchuria. Mounds for graves." Once settled in with friends in Tientsin, the girl quickly becomes involved in a very active social life with fellow Americans and Brits living near her. She lives her youth to the fullest. Every night is a party, and every day a new friend, a new man, a new adventure. Many of these adventures take place after midnight at her crew's favourite spot, the Astor House. Astor House was known, at the time, as "the prime venue for all diplomatic activity in Tianjin, Tienstin", leading to the educated guess that our author had diplomatic connections in America. As great as her descriptive detail is about her travels and life in Asia in 1919-1920, her emotional entries about her young, enthralling social life are just as captivating as she swings from devastation to elation in a sentence: "Disgusted with the single boys [at Astor House] - all with women - married women. Met Lieut Williams - wonderful dancer". She has the opportunity to meet exciting Americans as well as locals, such as her encounter on October 13: Two China-men came to tea - one was Chef Eunich of Empress Dowager's harem". On October 22, she begins working in what she only describes as "the office". Her schedule at the office seems pretty relaxed, as the majority of her entries focus on her leisure activities. She loves to visit the race track and bet on horses, she is an avid horseback rider, goes bowling, takes tea with a variety of friends and young men, swims and plays tennis all summer, and, of course, she dances the night away, in venues such as Empire, Astor House, the Grand Hotel de Pekin (on a long weekend trip to Peking) and the Anglo-American-Chinese Club. She has many suitors but connects with a man named Sokall, who is present in her life until she departs China (Sokall has competition, as she spends a great deal of time with Soda, dates Todd in the summer and writes passionately angry letters to Mac!). After a whirlwind year in China, she sadly packs her bags and departs on October 1st, 2020. About her departure, she writes: "Train time. Sokall….all went down to see me off…left at 12:15. Had a compartment alone…Got to feeling blue. Wrote letters. Read "My China Days" Sokall gave me. He also gave me some gold buttons. The Davys were awfully nice to me. Arrived Mukden at 7:10. Kirk met me. Went to Yamato Hotel. Had dinner and a bath. Train left at 9". Things begin looking up when she meets her new suitor, Colonel Arion, on the ship on October 20.: "Met Col Arion. Played tournament with him. Sat out on deck talking and dancing with him until 1:30. He's a peach. Danced with him. Dances divinely". After a stopover together in Honolulu, we discover that the Colonel will follow her back to New York: "the Colonel and I arranged about our transportation - he's going with me. Had lunch alone with him. Did an errand for him while he interviewed people." Together they travel through San Francisco, Omaha and Chicago, finally reaching New York on November 2, 1920. Real life quickly resumes for our author, whose writing clearly indicates that her heart is still in China. However, she must now introduce the Colonel to her parents, hunt for a job (first casually, then more seriously when she finds she has gone broke!), and attend the theatre. The diary ends on New Year's Eve as our author prepares to ring in 1921. It ends with talk of China. "After dinner the Moore's, Ethelyn's mother and CM came up and watched the old year out. Cocktails and champagne and talked of China [code]". Included, tucked in, is a small photo that may be the author and her mother but we can only speculate. Fascinating on so many levels: exotic, extended travel to Asia, meeting and making friends, men and experiences a culture entirely foreign to her, yet one that she is able to embrace and bring home with her to life in New York City, the retelling of her travels make for super reading and a significant historical record of a significant time in China's history. Overall VG.
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