Chinese dreams in Romantic England

The life and times of Thomas Manning

By Edward Weech

Chinese dreams in Romantic England
Hardcover +
  • Price: £25.00
  • ISBN: 9781526164551
  • Publish Date: Nov 2022
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
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    eBook -
  • Price: £25.00
  • ISBN: 9781526164544
  • Publish Date: Nov 2022
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
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    Book Information

    • Format: eBook
    • ISBN: 978-1-5261-6454-4
    • Published Date: November 2022


    A brilliant polymath and part of the 'first wave' of British Romanticism, Thomas Manning was one of the first Englishmen to study Chinese language and culture. Like famous friends including Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Charles Lamb, Manning was inspired by the French Revolution and had ambitious plans for making a better world. While his contemporaries turned to the poetic imagination and the English countryside, Manning looked further afield - to China, one of the world's most ancient and sophisticated civilizations. His travels included the salons of Napoleonic Paris, a period as a prisoner of war, a dramatic shipwreck and, disguised as a Buddhist pilgrim, a trek through the Himalayas to Tibet, where he met the Dalai Lama. Manning's extraordinary story sheds a new light on English Romanticism.


    China Books Review's best biography of 2023, as recommended by Paul French, author of Midnight in Peking.

    'Thomas Manning did many remarkable things and knew many remarkable people. He deserves a biography. Such a book will hold particular interest for those who care about the British Romantics, British culture in the early nineteenth century, or British "orientalism".'
    Michael Ferber, author of Romanticism: A very short introduction

    'I had heard of Thomas Manning, but by name only and knew little about his life and travels, therefore the work has proved to be extremely interesting and educational. What an exciting 'boy's own' adventure Manning appears to have had.'
    Sarah Murden, All Things Georgian

    'Edward Weech has successfully rescued one of Britain's earliest Sinologues from obscurity and for that he should be thanked. That he has written such a highly readable and engaging biography of the man is really the cream on the coffee that makes Chinese Dreams in Romantic England an important study of early Sinology.'
    Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society China

    'This is a timely story to tell (needless to say), and Weech's well-written and highly enjoyable study of a figure who was drawn to 'strange things' deserves an audience among those interested in Britain and empire and Sino-British relations as well as students of Romantic literary culture.'
    The Charles Lamb Bulletin


    1 Early life
    2 Romantic, 1798-1801
    3 France, 1802
    4 Delay and departure, 1803-1806
    5 Canton, 1807-1809
    6 On the skirts of creation, 1810-1816
    7 Home again
    Conclusion: Why did Thomas Manning want to learn about China?



    Edward Weech is Librarian at the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland.

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