The Private Life of Old Hong Kong – All about historical fiction

Whereas doing analysis for The Admiral’s Spouse, I puzzled if I would discover a diary or two that might illuminate the early 1900s of Hong Kong. Lo and behold, I stumbled upon The Non-public Lifetime of Outdated Hong Kong by Susanna Hoe which did simply that.

Hoe’s subtitle is Western Ladies in The British Colony 1841 – 1941.

As she writes within the preface, “ladies lived a non-public, not a public life” for a lot of that point and that their “most excellent worth was that of mutual assist.”

As you may think, I concentrated my studying on the time interval most related to The Admiral’s Spouse’s historic time interval of 1912-1914. Isabella Chook (photograph supply South China Morning Submit), an interesting girl who travelled the world and arrived in Hong Kong in 1878 (effectively earlier than my time interval) provided this moderately vital statement:

Victoria [the British name for the city at the time] is, or must be, well-known, so I cannot describe its cliques, its boundless hospitalities, its extravagances in residing, its quarrels, its gaieties, its picnics, balls, regattas, races, dinner events, garden tennis events, novice theatricals, afternoon

teas, and all its different modes of making a whirl which passes for pleasure or occupation.”

Among the ladies wrote of the insufferable warmth of Hong Kong, confessing to carrying Chinese language quick gown and trousers at dwelling throughout the day together with Chinese language-style slippers, exclaiming that “crinoline and stays are insufferable.”

Most of the ladies have been concerned in good works – the Hong Kong Women Benevolent Society, supporting military wives, elevating cash for the needy, donating to missionaries, discovering correct work for ladies who’d turn into ensnared by prostitution, visiting ladies in jail. Nonetheless, none of them had any contact with their Chinese language counterparts.

Apparently, in 1912 the YWCA needed to shut and Helena Might, spouse of the Governor of Hong Kong, was the drive behind constructing a brand new facility to offer “reasonably priced, comfy lodging for single, European ladies.” I integrated this effort into The Admiral’s Spouse as a part of Isabel Taylor’s introduction to and involvement with British feminine society in Hong Kong. Equally, a chapter titled ‘Large Women’ which described the pecking order amongst British ladies, a pecking order that aligned with their husband’s roles, was the inspiration for a few of Isabel’s actions and tasks.

One other perception helped me perceive the life and expectations of the admiral and his spouse:

Hong Kong was very protocol-minded and the heads of companies and senior authorities officers have been extraordinarily acutely aware of their positions and demanded correct respect from their juniors which we dutifully gave.”

As all the time, inspiration comes from many locations and infrequently unexpectedly!


M.Okay. Tod writes historic fiction. Her newest novel, PARIS IN RUINS, is on the market on Amazon US, Amazon Canada, Kobo, and Barnes&Noble. An earlier novel, TIME AND REGRET was printed by Lake Union. Mary’s different novels, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE and UNRAVELLED can be found from AmazonNookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. She may be contacted on FbTwitter and Goodreads or on her web site

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