torsdag 21. mars 2024

From China's Past: A Remarkable Couple in China - Archibald and Alicia Little

Archibald John Little (1838-1908) was a Manchester merchant and businessman in China. He first went to China in 1859 as a tea taster for a German company. This was the time of the Taiping Rebellion against the Qing Dynasty in China. Archibald set up his own business at Kiukiang (Jiujiang), moved to Shanghai and came up with the idea of using steamships to navigate the Upper Yangtze; a difficult stretch of water for shipping due to the seasonal fluctuations in water level and the presence of rapids and rocks. Previously, Chinese vessels such as junks were pulled upstream by ‘trackers’ hauling on ropes. Archibald Little wrote books about his travels in China, and set up a trading company in the western province of Sichuan.

Alicia Little or Mrs Archibald Little (1845-1926), as she often referred to herself, was an author, and social campaigner. A good summary of Alicia’s life can be found in Elisabeth Croll’s Wise Daughters from Foreign Lands European Women Writers in China (Pandora, London, 1989).