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The Chinese Drama.

Published: Shanghai: Kelly and Walsh, Limited, 1921

Stock code: 104788

Price: £775

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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.

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.

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