Charles Mason, the ‘king of China’: British imperial adventuring in the late nineteenth century

Catherine Frances LADDS*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

Abstract

This article considers the life of a British would-be adventurer and clerk in the Imperial Maritime Service, Charles Mason, who became embroiled in an uprising against the Chinese government in 1891. By exploring Mason's life, his writings and the diplomatic dialogue sparked by his actions, the article highlights the growing disjuncture between imperial fantasy and the reality of imperial administration. It considers how the actions of errant individuals could be used as a pretext to renegotiate the limits of British and Chinese power. As Mason's actions and his literary career demonstrate, China and other imperial sites beyond the formal control of colonial authorities acted as ideal places for adventuring in the British imagination.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)567-590
Number of pages24
JournalHistorical Research
Volume90
Issue number249
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2017

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science

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