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The Chinese by Harper

The Chinese: A General Description of the Empire of China and its Inhabitants, by Sir John Francis Davis, esq. F.R.S. etc., had two volumes published in New York by Harper & Brothers on Cliff Street, in 1836.

The book: is compiled from his notes while living in China: “le désir de tout connaître, en étant obligé de le décrire” which translates to “the desire to know everything, while being obliged to describe it.”

The writer: JF Davis (1795-1890) was the oldest son of Samuel (1760–1819), a director at East India Company. He became a writer there in 1813. After accompanying Lord Amherst to Beijing in 1816, he returned to Guangzhou (Canton). After the death of Lord Napier in 1834, he became the Superintendent of British Trade in China in 1833. He next served as the second governor of Hong Kong, proceeded by Sir Henry Pottinger (砵甸乍; 1789-1856) who,  in 1842, negotiated the Treaty of Nanjing after the conclusion of the first opium war, on board the HMS Cornwallis (1813).

wiki photo of four Harper brothers: Fletcher, James, John & Joseph

The publisher: Harper & Brothers at that time, was located on the Cliff Street. It was founded by James and John Harper in 1817 in New York, as J & J Harper. By 1920s, Fletcher and Joe also joined in mid of 1920s, therefore, the name changed to Harper & Brothers. From 1962-1990, it merged with Row, becoming Harper & Row and from 1990 to present, it’s known as HarperCollins, owned by News Corp.

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