(CHINA.) JOHNSTON, R. F.
The Chinese Drama.
First edition, first impression, uncommon: Copac records just 5 copies in British and Irish institutional libraries (British Library, SOAS, Durham, National Library of Scotland, St Andrews). A most attractively produced book by the colonial administrator and Sinologist Sir Reginald Fleming Johnston (1874-1938), tutor and adviser to the last Emperor of China. “In Beijing, Johnston played out his affectations and passions on a larger stage than was possible in backwoods Weihaiwei. He became actively involved in the small local circle of foreign Sinologists, and met not only Chinese scholars of the old school – such as his fellow tutors – but contemporary writers and thinkers in one of the most turbulent periods of modern Chinese cultural history. He also deepened his reputation as a serious scholar of Chinese, publishing The Chinese Drama (1921), and articles on cultural and contemporary topics” (ODNB). With an interesting provenance: from the library of the amateur magician and collector Edwin A. Dearn (1892-1980), with his bookplate (designed by himself). After becoming interested in magic in 1913, Dearn spent a number of years in China travelling through the Shanghai district and performing magic, ventriloquism, and impersonations in theatres, halls, and homes.
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Quarto. Original orange silk wrappers stitched as issued, paper label on front cover, marbled paper flap-case with silk ties intact. 6 tipped-in colour plates by C. F. Winzer. spine of case toned, endpapers a little foxed. An exceptional copy.