Robert Burns and the Scots in Shanghai

BurnsShanghaiBurns anniversaries have been celebrated around the world for a long time, proliferating in the nineteenth century. In Shanghai, where China’s first Scottish association, the Shanghai St Andrew’s Society, was established in the mid-nineteenth century, however, the anniversary, as the North China Herald reported in 1902, ‘has gone without public celebration’. But it was all about to change, thanks in particular to Charles Stewart Addis, the new president of the St Andrew’s Society. Addis, together with other members of the Society’s committee, was ‘determined that the reproach of neglect of Scotia’s favourite son should no longer be justly cast on his fellow-countrymen’ in Shanghai.

Consequently, a celebration was organised, and approximately one hundred members of the Society ‘met to eat a Scottish dinner, sing Scottish songs, listen to Scottish …

Sir Walter Scott’s ‘Waverley’ and the St Andrew’s Society of Shanghai

imageOn this day in 1814, the novel Waverley was published by Sir Walter Scott. Here’s for a short story from the Scottish Diaspora in Asia that connects to the novel.

When Shanghai’s St Andrew’s Society and its guests gathered at the Shanghai Club to celebrate St Andrew’s Day in 1879, it was not the customary ball that was held, but a ‘Waverley Ball’, organised ‘in honour of the Patron Saint and the Poet Novelist of Scotland.’ As had already been reported in a local paper in the summer of 1879, guests were meant to be dressed as characters from Scott’s Waverley novels: ‘We hear with pleasure that the members of St. Andrew’s Society have decided to give a fancy dress ball, about the 30th November next. It can most appropriately …