Edmund Backhouse in the long view of history


Derek Sandhaus of Earnshaw Books discusses the facts and fictions of the 20th-century Sinologist Edmund Backhouse.

Edmund Backhouse, the 20th-century Sinologist, long-time Beijing resident, and occasional con artist, is perhaps best known for his incendiary memoirs, which not only distorted Western understanding of Chinese history for more than 50 years, but also included what, in retrospect, can only be seen as patently fictitious stories of erotic encounters between the British baronet and Empress Dowager Cixi.

This week on Sinica, we are delighted to be joined by Derek Sandhaus of Earnshaw Books, who has recently produced an abridged edition of Backhouse’s memoirs for the Hong Kong publishing house. As an expert on the facts and fictions of Edmund Backhouse, Derek joins us for a discussion of what is real and less-than-real in Backhouse’s deathbed reminiscences, and what we can and should learn about Qing-era China from his memoirs.


David Helliwell’s blog


Decadence Manchu, by Edmund Backhouse


Derek Sandhaus’s two works:

Baijiu: The Essential Guide to Chinese Spirits


Tales of Old Peking


David Moser

Asian Observer: This Day In Chinese History

Derek Sandhaus

The Hermit of Peiking, by Hugh Trevor-Roper


Homoerotic Sensibilities in Late Imperial China, by Cuncun Wu


Kaiser Kuo

Chublic Opinion – Down with Nihilism


Can the Chinese Government get its people to like GMOs?, by Christina Larson