Knowledge Is Pleasure
Florence Ayscough in Shanghai
Publication Year: 2012
Published by: Hong Kong University Press, HKU
Series: Royal Asiatic Society Shanghai
Title Page, copyright
Firstly, I am grateful to Paul French, editor of the Royal Asiatic Society in Shanghai, Hong Kong University Press China Monograph series for his enthusiasm and kindness, and commitment to the pleasure of reading. I am grateful...
Winter sunlight glances off the polished fenders of the ‘Blue Tiger’, parked outside ‘the Grass Hut’—a seemingly traditional and prosperously un-hut-like Chinese courtyard house (Figure 1). A smartly dressed...
In the mid-1930s the American artist Eva Dunlap painted a map of Shanghai, showing the way to her friend Florence Ayscough’s home, the Grass Hut, at 72 Penang Road (now Anyuan Road) (Figure 2). On her map Dunlap called the house...
There are many reasons for learning, or not learning, a foreign language; Florence Ayscough may be the only Westerner who learnt Chinese out of politeness. Most Shanghailanders didn’t speak any Chinese. From their perspective, there was no necessity. Their household staff spoke pidgin, and compradors...
In the twenty years since Ayscough and Lowell had been young women together in Boston, Lowell had been forging her own successful path as a poet and by 1917 had published three poetry collections. One of these, Sword Blades and Poppy Seed (1914) had been a critically acclaimed bestseller that catapulted...
4. Gardens and the Grass Hut
On 11 February 1922 Florence Ayscough wrote to tell Amy Lowell that she and Francis had come to ‘a very momentous decision, which is this. Frank will retire from the firm at the end of this year. We shall sell this...
5. After China
In April 1923 the Ayscoughs sailed away from Shanghai, arriving in St. Andrews, New Brunswick in May. They intended to make Topside, the house Thomas Wheelock had built in 1897, their permanent home. They brought with them...
Florence Ayscough wrote long illustrated essays about two places in Shanghai. One was her home at Penang Road; the other was one of her ‘favourite haunts’. This wasn’t the illustrious Astor House Hotel, or the Country Club in its eleven acres of gracious gardens, or Stehlneek’s Gallery, or the Race...