These days China is constantly in the headlines, so it seemed about time to examine the history of Chinese immigration to England. Fred Donnelly has performed another exciting feat of historical sleuthing to uncover the tragic story of Yhou Fung Queon, believed to have been the first Chinese woman to visit England, while Chiang Yee's travelogue The Silent Traveller in London provides a fascinating insight into how London was perceived by one visitor who eventually made it his home for a substantial part of his life. Elsewhere in Books, Steve Cox examines Michael Wood's new microhistorical approach in The Story of England, which sheds light on national history's major themes by researching the experience of one particular village. Monty Trumpington intriguingly compares Hardy's Jude with Forster's Leonard Bast to highlight similar dynamics of social and cultural snobbery in both cases. Neil Jackson provides an in-depth account of the life and works of James Curtis, a little-known crime novelist chiefly known for They Drive By Night, and Alex Betts turns his attention to matters of gentlemanly elegance in his review of Gustav Temple's new book Am I A Chap? --a question which in Alex's case is surely rhetorical. For ladies, Em Marshall-Luck's reviews of various English beauty products in the Diversions section will prove of equal interest.
Art contains a generous number of reviews. Paul Flux is less than convinced by a recent exhibition on the Vorticists, and welcomes a new book on the mad Victorian artist Richard Dadd with imagination and sensitivity. He also evaluates the oeuvre of a rising star in the English art world, Thomas Houseago, whose sculptures inventively combine various media. We are very pleased to welcome Mark Jones, who contributes a review of a new book on Samuel Palmer that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking, revealing Palmer's little-known reactionary side.
In Cinema, Neil reviews the obscure classic Lunch Hour, starring the gifted Shirley Anne Field, as well as the brand-new Patrick Keiller film Robinson in Ruins, a response to the financial crisis--both articles showcase his usual psychological insight and wit. After much deliberation, we finally decided to introduce a Television section, which we inaugurate with a review of Alan Plater's The Beiderbecke Trilogy, intriguing both for its eccentric storylines and its profound Northernness.
Music is overflowing with reviews of new classical, folk and rock releases. James Turner provides an interview with Peter Hammill of Van der Graaf Generator and a detailed retrospective of Hammill's career, in addition to assessing new Sandy Denny, Amazing Blondel, and Martin Simpson releases, among many others. Similarly, Em applies her musical expertise to albums of work by Joubert, Elgar, Vaughan Williams, and Elgar, to name very few. Finally, in addition to the aforementioned beauty product reviews, Diversions contains my frivolous musings on Peter Sellers' renditions of Beatles songs. Cheers, and thank you--as always--for all the reader feedback. We very much appreciate it.--The Editor