Books: The Silent Traveller in Oxford

September 3, 2015

The High in Winter By Chiang Lee,  from his book The Silent Traveller in Oxford (1944)




Adopting his Chinese pen name Yaxingzhe (The Silent Traveller) as an apt generic title, Lee’s ‘Silent Traveller’ series of illustrated travelogues of England remain his most popular and enduring works. Lee also wrote on Chinese painting and calligraphy, his childhood in China, and was author of a number of children’s books.


Arriving in Oxford in 1941 having been bombed out of London by the Blitz, The Silent Traveller in Oxford is a personal and impressionistic, often wryly amusing, prose and poetry account of his subsequent two year stay.


Complemented by a number of Lee’s exquisite paintings and drawings, the book is a significant literary and artistic achievement, offering a unique perspective on Oxford at a particular moment in its history.


Written with wit, warmth and compassion by a man whose own ethnicity marked him in 1940s Britain as an outsider, Lee effortlessly weaves together the seemingly disparate worlds of China and Oxford in a series of vignettes and sketches which celebrate a common humanity.


Highly Recommended. Original hardback editions are still available on-line. The paperback of The Silent Traveller in Oxford is in print, published by Signal Books for around £10. In stock at Blackwell’s, Broad Street, Oxford and on-line.



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