"An unusual and charming book. I warmly
recommend it."
—Eric Newby

The Ford of Heaven

A Childhood Memoir of Tientsin, China

Brian Power

Foreword by Frances Wood

“Looking out to sea I whispered a farewell prayer to the wind: Help me to be content to pass by even the most beautiful places without wanting to remain in them for long or to keep them for myself.” Tientsin in north-eastern China was known as “The Ford of Heaven” as it gave travellers access to the Celestial City of Peking and the Emperor of Heaven eighty miles to the west. It was also a “concession port” in the 1920s and 1930s, occupied by the foreign powers of Britain, France, Russia and Japan in the wake of the Opium War of 1860. As rival war-lords fought for control, and the elusive White Lotus society vied with Chiang Kai Shek’s nationalists, the old order was soon to be swept away. This memoir evokes a childhood spent in this strange and exotic place. In contrast to other accounts of lives lived in foreign enclaves, Brian Power’s early experiences were shaped not by his parents’ values but by the loving care and calm spirit of his Chinese amah Y Jieh, who gave him the gift of Chinese and an understanding of her people’s legends and superstitions. The world that Powers evokes is a microcosm of the complexity and ferment that was China before the Second World War, yet seen through the fresh eyes of a sensitive child attuned to the lives of the people around him.This new edition of The Ford of Heaven (first published in 1984) contains a new foreword by Frances Wood, Curator of the British Library’s Chinese Collection, as well as a postscript and the inclusion of additional material by the author.

BRIAN POWER was born in Tientsin in 1918 before moving to Britain where he was a barrister and teacher. He is the author of The Puppet Emperor (1986), the story of the last Chinese Emperor.

Lost & Found: Classic Travel Writing

£16.99 paperback

Buy now

208 pages (approx), 203x133mm, illustrations
ISBN: 9781904955016