Writing China: Essays on the Amherst Embassy (1816) and Sino-British Cultural Relations

Peter Kitson (Editor), Robert Markley (Editor)

Research output: Book/ReportBook


On 29 August 1816, Lord Amherst, exhausted after travelling overnight during an embassy to China, was roughly handled in an attempt to compel him to attend an immediate audience with the Jiaqing Emperor at the Summer Palace of Yuanming Yuan. Fatigued and separated from his ambassadorial and credentials, Amherst resisted, and left the palace in anger. The emperor, believing he had been insulted, dismissed the embassy without granting it an imperial audience and rejected its "tribute" of gifts. This diplomatic incident caused considerable disquiet at the time.
Some 200 years later, it is timely in 2016 to consider once again the complex and vexed historical and cultural relations between two of the nineteenth-century world's largest empires. The interdisciplinary essays in this volume engage with the most recent work on British cultural representations of, and exchanges with, Qing China, extending our existing but still provisional understandings of this area of study in new and exciting directions. They cover such subjects as female foot binding; English and Chinese pastoral poetry; translations; representations of the trade in tea and opium; Tibet; and the political, cultural and environmental contexts of the Amherst embassy itself. Featuring British and Chinese writers such as Edmund Spenser, Wu Cheng'en, Thomas De Quincey, Oscar Wilde, James Hilton, and Zhuanzi, these essays take forward the compelling and highly relevant subject for today of Britain and China's relationship
Original languageEnglish
PublisherBoydell and Brewer
Number of pages203
ISBN (Print)9781843844457
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2016


  • foot binding
  • Amherst Embassy
  • China
  • Kowtow
  • Opium trade

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