Item #532 ANCIENT MELODIES. Ling Chen, Su Hua.


London: The Hogarth Press, 1953. First edition. Octavo. Green cloth, gilt spine. 256 pp. Introduction by Vita Sackville-West. Black & white line drawings by the author illustrate the text. Bookplate of the noted Hogarth Press/Bloomsbury Group collector William Beekman affixed to front pastedown, else very good or better with no marks or toning; author-illustrated, extremely scarce dust jacket with a small loss at top of spine and a rub at the bottom, neatly price-clipped, else very good.  Only one other copy available in dust jacket.

First edition. In 1938-39 Virginia Woolf conducted a correspondence with Su Hua Ling Chen, the daughter of a former Mayor of Peking and a friend of her nephew Julian Bell, whom she addressed in her letters as "Sue Ling." Su Hua had written to Woolf from China "that she helplessly depressed by Japan's invasion of China and her refugee life in the western province of Szechuan." Woolf offered to send her books in English to improve her vocabulary, and encouraged her to write a memoir. She finally made it to London in 1947 with her completed manuscript, having sent chapters to Woolf over the years.

The finished book recounts her childhood growing up in pre-revolutionary China. The author paints a vivid picture of her comfortable childhood as the daughter of her father’s fourth concubine in a household of courtyards that encompassed six mothers and their children, as well as servants who tended the complicated daily routines of life for the privileged in China just prior to the Boxer Rebellion. A thoroughly charming and surprising personal account.

. Very Good. Item #532

WOOLF, Vol. VI, page 221n.

Price: $425.00

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