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Aeneas Anderson in China

Lord Macartney’s mission to open up China in 1792 failed, but it did give the Western world its first glimpse of the secretive Middle Kingdom, through the memoirs written by eight different members of the embassy.

Edited by Frances Wood, Published by Earnshaw Books

But the most lively and accessible of the books were written by Aeneas Anderson, Lord Macartney’s valet. China scholar Frances Wood introduces Anderson’s account of the two-year adventure, which makes clear that the valet was seeing far more of China than his master was. His descriptions of life in China and Manchuria in the late 18th century are a hugely valuable and very readable resource, and Frances Wood is as insightful as always.

About The Author

Frances Wood was a Curator of the Chinese collections at the British Library for nearly 30 years. She was responsible for the joint British Museum-British Library exhibition on the Macartney Embassy in 1992. Her work on the collections includes books and essays on the Silk Road and the Stein collection, a survey of Sir Hans Sloane’s Chinese books, and an essay on William Alexander’s sketches made on the Embassy. A graduate of both Cambridge and Peking universities, she has published many books, including “Did Marco Polo Go To China?” and “No Dogs and Not Many Chinese”.


“Essential reading for anyone interested in the foreign intervention in China at the end of its imperial era. The leading historian of China, Frances Wood has done a great service by producing a republication of the diary of the least prestigious member of the delegation, Aeneas Anderson.”

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