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US writer's book on Beijing out in Chinese seven decades later

By Wu Yue | China Daily | Updated: 2016-12-14 07:59

US writer's book on Beijing out in Chinese seven decades later

The painting reveals a vivid picture of daily life in Beijing in the book by Marian Cannon Schlesinger. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Marian Cannon Schlesinger, 104, can still recall what Beijing was like in the 1930s, when she visited China to see her sister, Wilma Cannon Fairbank, and brother-in-law, John King Fairbank.

"I fear that old Peking and all its wonderful atmosphere, the hutong (alleys), mud houses, sounds and daily life, as I knew them, have long disappeared," Schlesinger writes in her introduction to San Bao and His Adventures in Peking.

The book's Chinese translation, published by Beijing-based Zhonghua Book Company, was released in October, 77 years after the original in English was first published in the United States.

"I think what I caught in my little book is almost a historical record," she adds.

Schlesinger arrived in Shanghai in 1934 after a 17-day ship journey from the US having completed her college education.

Together with the Fairbanks, she traveled to Fuzhou, Xiamen, Shantou and Guangzhou before arriving in Beijing in 1935. On that trip, she also went to Hong Kong.

In Beijing, when then-budding Sinophiles John King Fairbank worked hard on his Chinese language skills and Wilma Cannon Fairbank researched the restoration of Tang Dynasty (618-907) rubbings, Schlesinger took Chinese painting lessons, and attracted curious onlookers while she and her sister painted. They also rode little Mongolian ponies to nearby villages.

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