“To write for children, and to write well”

Shih-Wen Sue Chen

“To write for children, and to write well”

Protestant Mission Presses and the Development of Children’s Literature in Late-nineteenth and Early-twentieth century China

Abstract: This article uses a new historicist approach to examine the complex relationships between translators, writers, and missionary publishers in China, and their financial supporters in the United States and Britain to demonstrate how they influenced the development of Chinese children’s literature. It focuses on the case of the American Presbyterian Mission Press, Chinese Religious Tract Society, and Christian Literature Society for China, publishers of many texts for children. The article argues that the Western mission presses shaped Chinese children’s literature in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century by introducing new narratives through translation, highlighting the importance of including visual images in children’s texts by importing electrotypes and lithographic prints from the United States and Britain, and training Chinese students in new engraving and printing techniques which enabled them to establish their own publishing houses.

Keywords: mission presses, China, Chinese children’s literature, Christianity, translation, publishing history, print culture

Published: 21 December 2016

©2016 Shih-Wen Sue Chen. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/), permitting all non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Citation: Barnboken – tidskrift för barnlitteraturforskning/Journal of Children’s Literature Research, Vol. 39, 2016 http://dx.doi.org/10.14811/clr.v39i0.252


In 1907, missionary John MacGowan claimed, “there is not to-day a single child’s book in China, and no fairy stories for children, and no household rhymes that can be bought at the booksellers, and put into the hands of the little ones in the nursery” (263).1 MacGowan’s assertion, while exaggerated, highlights the perceived paucity of books published specifically for Chinese children in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, when young readers were mostly perusing classics such as the Three Character Classic and One Hundred Family Surnames, books that functioned as literacy primers rather than “fairy stories” written to entertain children (Bai). Children also read The Twenty-four Paragons of Filial Piety which aimed to instil Confucian values in the implied readers through anecdotes of children demonstrating filial piety, a key virtue in Chinese society (Mo and Shen). It was in this context that Protestant missionary presses published texts specifically for Chinese children.

One cultural force that has been often maligned in the “field” of literary production (Bourdieu 27–73) is publishers because of their perceived interest in commercializing literature and art. Critics point out that because publishing houses are motivated by profit, they may pressure an author to compromise his or her creative vision (McCleery 163). Because mission presses in China were not established with the primary goal of financial gain, factors that influenced the production of the texts that reached “the hands of the little ones” are different. This essay examines the development of children’s literature in China in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century and the role that Protestant mission presses had in shaping this literature, focusing on the case of the American Presbyterian Mission Press, Chinese Religious Tract Society, and Christian Literature Society for China, publishers of many texts for children. The founders of the influential Shangwu yin shu guan (Commercial Press) learned their trade at the American Presbyterian Mission Press (APMP). Because the Commercial Press is still publishing children’s books today, it is important to examine the influence mission presses such as the APMP had on the development of Chinese children’s literature.

Using primary material collected at the Shanghai municipal archives, Shanghai Library, the Bodleian Library and National Library of Australia, this article examines the complex relationships between the translators, writers, missionary publishers, and their financial supporters in the United States and Britain to demonstrate how they influenced the development of Chinese children’s literature.2 I use a new historicist approach to children’s literature proposed by Mitzi Myers, who advocates for “integrat[ing] text and socio-historical context” when approaching children’s literature and considering the “environing circumstances” in which a text is produced, including publishing history and material production (42). John T.P. Lai points out that the Religious Tract Society (RTS, founded in 1799) and the American Tract Society (ATS, founded in 1825) “emerged as the predominant missionary institutions in sponsoring the global production and publication of Christian literature,” noting that in 1913 the RTS provided 72% of the total income of the local tract societies in China and the ATS supplied 10% (Lai, “Christian” 74). This essay explores the connection between the mission presses and these two Societies, which were powerhouses in the children’s book industry in the nineteenth century. The RTS and ATS produced millions of copies of children’s books, tracts, and periodicals (Butts and Garrett; Haynes). I argue that the mission presses shaped Chinese children’s literature in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century by introducing new narratives through translation, highlighting the importance of including visual images in children’s texts by importing electrotypes and lithographic prints from the United States and Britain, and training Chinese students in new engraving and printing techniques which enabled them to establish their own publishing houses.

Protestant Missionaries and their Presses

Before the signing of the Treaty of Tientsin in 1858, there were fewer than 200 Protestant missionaries in China because foreigners were only allowed to operate in the treaty ports along the coast. After the Treaty “opened” up the Chinese inland, missionary societies sent more people into the country. The various mission presses established in cities such as Shanghai and Beijing concentrated mostly on printing Bibles, tracts, and periodicals for adults, with only an occasional translated children’s book, but after the 1870s, when the mission press became more secularized, more attention was given to publishing children’s periodicals, novels, and textbooks (Volz and Lee 172).

The importance of publishing a special literature for children is highlighted in two reviews of the Xiaohai yuebao (The Child’s Paper) in the 1870s. One, published in The Chinese Recorder, notes the “importance of periodical literature as a civilizing power” and “look[s] with favour on every attempt that is made to create a juvenile literature” (“Our Book Table” 303–304).3 The other in The North China Herald states, “It is difficult to overestimate the value of work among and for the benefit of children, whom it is far easier to improve than the grown-up Chinese” (“Summary of News” 468).4 Both reviewers suggest that the Chinese need “civilizing” and “improving,” reflecting the Orientalist views of a “backward” East in contrast to a “civilized” West (Saïd). The latter review also includes the assumption that children are more easily influenced than adults, a view echoed by another review of the Xiaohai yuebao in March 1882 that declares that the periodical could “educate the young, who will constitute this class in the next generation. Their minds are now plastic, and those who wish to give them correct views should avail themselves of the opportunity” (“Foreign Chinese Literature” 336). The description of children’s minds as “plastic” coincides with English philosopher John Locke’s idea that children are tabula rasa and the child’s mind is as “white paper void of all characters,” simply waiting to be imprinted (n. pag.). Locke’s thoughts concerning education were widely accepted by British and American children’s authors (including missionaries) from the eighteenth century to the nineteenth century (Lerer 104–105).

Missionaries regarded childhood as a crucial stage of life and hoped that if children converted at a young age after reading Christian children’s literature, they would grow up to establish a strong Chinese church. For example, J.M.W. Farnham (1829–1917), who was involved in the APMP, wrote to the Board of Foreign Missions that “we must if possible reach and change the minds of the children or they will grow up as superstitious and ignorant as the present generation” (“March 20, 1877” n. pag.). Farnham’s sentiments reflect adult anxiety around children’s innocence and susceptibility to “corrupting” influences. He asked for $300 US dollars to support the circulation of The Child’s Paper (1875–1915), which he describes as “well received on all hands and the circulation is increasing rapidly. Yet we must depend upon contributions to help it for sometime to come till a taste for such reading is formed” (“March 20, 1877” n. pag.). This statement acknowledges the difficulty in forming reading habits among the young Chinese but also ends on a hopeful note that once the “taste” for Christian literature was developed, it would have profound benefits. Because of their belief in the malleability of children, missionaries produced children’s periodicals and novels to supplement textbooks and primers, hoping to inspire a love of reading amongst Chinese youth. Among these, The Child’s Paper, published by the APMP and later the Chinese Religious Tract Society, was the most notable.

American Presbyterian Mission Press, Chinese Religious Tract Society and The Child’s Paper

The APMP was established in February 1844 in Macao before moving to Ningpo in 1845. In 1860 the Press relocated to Shanghai because this treaty port was recognized as a centre of commerce and a city full of evangelical opportunities. Early works published included the Bible, sermons and other tracts for adults and a small Publishing Committee was responsible for selecting the material to be published. In Shanghai, such decisions were made by an Editorial Committee (Fitch). The Press was headed by William Gamble, an Irish American who had previously worked in a Philadelphia publishing firm and the Bible House in New York before arriving in China (Mission Press in China 20). By the 1890s, the Press was printing over forty million pages per year (Farnham, “Historical” 73). Gamble went to Japan in 1869 and the Press was succeeded by a number of other missionaries, including C.W. Mateer, W.S. Holt, G.F. Fitch, and J.M.W. Farnham. Farnham was the editor of The Child’s Paper, first established in Canton by John G. Kerr in 1874. Kerr based it in the ATS’s The Child’s Paper (1852–1897), a monthly periodical noted for its quality illustrations and large circulation.5

The Chinese Religious Tract Society, established in 1878, later took over the publishing of the Paper, probably because Farnham was the corresponding secretary for the Society, whose goal was to “circulate Christian literature throughout the empire of China” (Mission Press in China 86). In addition to editing the Paper, Farnham began teaching his students at Lowrie High School book-binding, engraving, type-setting and stereotyping skills which provided them with tools for entering the publishing trade.6 By 1895 there were approximately 150 people employed by the APMP, and 41 were pupils in the boys’ boarding schools established by Farnham and other missionaries (Farnham, “Historical” 67–73). Four of these former students founded the Commercial Press in 1897. These men continued the work of the mission presses in producing and shaping Chinese children’s literature.

There were several constraints on the establishment, running, and circulation of children’s magazines such as The Child’s Paper, including the number of electroplates available to illustrate the periodical, the lack of quality paper, limited financial resources, difficulty in finding quality translators, and the cost of distribution. The APMP’s publications were not issued with the main goal of commercial profit and were often sold below cost price and even circulated for free. In fact, Farnham insisted that The Child’s Paper, whose “prime object is to bring the little ones to Jesus or prepare the way for other means,” be freely distributed to children because “the Children have no means to pay for it” (Farnham, “Report of Shanghai Station” n. pag.; “It must be a present” 8). The distribution of literature was another concern. Before the child could hold the periodical in their hands, the text would have had to be distributed by colporteurs (usually Chinese men hired by the mission presses to distribute bibles and tracts) or missionaries who travelled to where the child lived. The Religious Tract Society Record of Work at Home and Abroad reveals that funds were sent to Farnham several years in a row to enable him to freely circulate The Child’s Paper amongst the Chinese (“Appendix” 1879, 19; “Appendix” 1881, 21). The ATS gave approximately $1,000 US dollars in 1885, supplied “beautiful illustrations” as well as copies of electrotypes (Annual Report of the ATS 1886, 101; 1876, 111; 1903, 179).

The Child’s Paper was noted for having numerous illustrations, unlike other Chinese children’s reading materials at the time. In a letter to the Board of Foreign Missions, Farnham describes the periodical as “profusely illustrated” because not only have the English and American Tract Societies made donations of cuts, he has trained an engraver to make illustrations for it (Farnham, “Report of Shanghai Station”). This highlights the belief in original illustrations as the key to the success of the periodical. The Child’s Paper included illustrations of not only animals, plants, architecture, and human anatomy, it also provided child readers with an idea of what American childhood was like. For example, in Figure 1, the warm relationship between adult and child is highlighted as they sit closely together in a room furnished with plants, pictures, a chest of drawers, and a big chair. The detailed drawing reveals the girl in full concentration, surrounded by pieces of cloth. According to the text, this is an orphaned granddaughter learning how to sew from her grandmother. Although the two are poor, they are able to make a living by their excellent sartorial skills. While the image of Caucasians may not have been familiar to the implied reader, the act of sewing would probably have reminded girls of their own experiences. Figure 2 is an example of the contrasting visual styles in the Paper. Unlike Figure 1, it is a Chinese-style drawing that depicts an open space with two figures in Chinese clothes and hairstyles in the foreground and several students sitting in a classroom in the background. However, because the illustration is less detailed and the people are much smaller in comparison, it is hard to see their facial expressions. There is much more white space and the focus is on the landscape rather than the individuals. These two images characterise the periodical’s inclusion of Western and Chinese visual elements, highlighting its hybridity.

Fig 1

Figure. 1. ‘Jiaoyu youfang tu [Picture of Effective education].’ The Child’s Paper 1 (1875)

Fig 2

Figure. 2. ‘Gunu mudao tu [Picture of blind female desiring the truth].’ The Child’s Paper 8 (1875)

Selecting and Translating Texts

One of the biggest issues with the production of children’s literature during this time was the problem of translation. Missionary translator C.W. Mateer noted that “Nearly all foreigners fail of acquiring [sic: to acquire] the Chinese written language. In making a book they furnish the idea, but they are entirely dependent on the Chinese teacher to furnish the language in which these ideas are clothed” (qtd. in Lai, Negotiating 112). In a process known as tandem translation, the English “translator” usually read the text and interpreted it into Chinese, while the “native assistant” would write down the words and polish the sentences (Hill 32–33). Problems with accuracy arose because as Lawrence Wong points out, the Westerner did not have enough language skills to be able to determine whether the translation was accurate and the Chinese collaborator would not have been able to make sure that what was being communicated was the actual meaning of the text. Many of the Chinese collaborators were reluctant to serve the Western “barbarians” but worked on these projects because they had not passed the difficult imperial exam to become a government official, a highly coveted position (Wong 241). Therefore the quality of the translated works was sometimes not as good as it could have been.

The selection process for translation included factors such as the availability of the book or tract and its status in the source country. Bestsellers tended to be translated first. For example, Hesba Stretton’s bestselling Jessica’s First Prayer (1867) was translated by Adelia M. Payson into Fuzhou dialect in 1878 (Carlson 172). Stretton was an important author for the RTS because in 1868 sales of her new books represented 34% of the Society’s total book sales (Rickard 108). Stretton’s Meg’s Little Children (1868), which had sold 350,000 copies within the first ten years of publication (Rickard 110), was translated by Mary Crossette in 1913. Crossette had also translated Stretton’s Alone in London (1869) in 1909. Mrs. O. F. Walton’s Christie’s Old Organ (RTS, 1874) was translated as Anle jia by Mary Harriet Porter in 1875. The work was so popular that it was republished in 1882, 1900, and 1911 (Song 163). The RTS’s 1875 publication, The Cottage on the Shore, or Little Gwen’s Story was also translated in 1882 by Porter, who changed the narration from first person to third person. Mission presses took different readers into consideration, publishing not only in guanhua [“official speech”: Mandarin], but also in local dialects.

The Swiss Boy was translated into the Ningpo and Shanghai dialects in 1861 and 1868 respectively, and into Mandarin in 1873 by Helen Nevius as Haitong gushi [A Child’s Story]. It was reprinted in 1883 and 1884 (Illustrated Catalogue 104). This story is narrated in third person omniscient and features Seppili, a motherless Christian boy who leaves home at the age of thirteen because his father could no longer support him due to a famine. Seppili encounters many trials. Ultimately he falls into the hands of bullies who unleash a violent dog on him because he refuses to blaspheme God when they ask him to. The dog-bite becomes infected, Seppili falls ill, and in his final moments, Seppili forgives the villains because he remembers the words of his pious mother, who had taught him Christian principles before her death.

Nevius employs the translation strategy of what Lawrence Venuti terms domestication because the narrator describes a kind stranger giving Seppili a mantou (Chinese steamed bun) instead of mianbao (bread) (Nevius 2). According to Irwin T. Hyatt, Nevius’s translation reflected the situation of Chinese boys in Shandong province who faced similar temptations to Seppili. Nevius had observed that many were forced to find work in the city because of an economic depression. Hyatt suggests that the implied reader of the story is female and that Nevius flatters her by convincing her that “she is a morally superior being, and that her son’s salvation depends, after God, mostly on herself. She is further exhorted to prepare her children immediately for the trials they are sure to meet” (Hyatt 78). My reading of the translation suggests that there is a dual implied readership of women as well as children who are similar in age to the protagonist because the story is focalised through Seppili and focuses on the issues that many adolescents face, including peer pressure and finding one’s place in the world. For example, when Seppili is praying, Anthony and Stephen, the two young men he works and lives with, yell at him to be quiet (Nevius 4). They pressure him to follow their example of impious behaviour but he refuses.

Lai points out that because of the strict censorship conducted by the Tract Societies regarding Chinese authorship, it was only after the turn of the century that Chinese assistants “started to enjoy the ‘privilege’ of having their names printed alongside Western missionaries as translators” (Lai, Negotiating 117). A noted exception is translator Lian Fang, a Manchu who worked for the Tongwen Guan (School of Combined Learning) and was later posted to France and Russia (Fu 252). His “Lushe bei jing [Scared While Staying at an Inn]”, serialised in The Child’s Paper in 1875 (no. 7, 9, 12), was a translation of a story about a Frenchman and his friend’s adventures in Italy. The first person narrator worries that the owners of the inn are going to murder him when he overhears them saying “kill them both,” but it turns out that the owners were referring to two chickens that they wanted to cook for their guests. First person narration is uncommon in late-nineteenth century Chinese fiction (Hanan 430–431; Doleželová-Velingerová 723).

Although the protagonist of the story is a Frenchman, the illustration that accompanies the narrative depicts characters wearing Chinese clothes in a room with Chinese furniture, most notably the kang bed and a Chinese-style pillow, making the story more relatable to the implied reader (Figure 3).7 The story’s humorous tone contrasts with the serious didactic tenor of the other articles in the Paper, providing some relief from the heavy moralizing. In the process of translation, literature crossed national borders and ideas travelled across time and space. The translated texts were adapted for their target audience in creative ways.

Fig 3

Figure. 3.The Child’s Paper 1875 (9): 3.

Christian Literature Society for China

Although the APMP and the Chinese Religious Tract Society continued to publish materials for children after the turn of the century, the Christian Literature Society for China (Guangxue hui, CLS) was the driving force behind children’s literature in the early twentieth century, particularly after 1912 (Ho 81). Not only did CLS publish books in Chinese translation for children, such as Mrs. Gatty’s Parables from Nature, Frances Hodgson Burnett’s Sarah Crewe and Susan Warner’s The Wide, Wide World, the Society began to import English books in 1914 by becoming agents for Oxford University Press, John Murray, Sampson Low & Co., Longmans and other presses (27th Annual Report 6).

The CLS had its origins in the Society for the Diffusion of Christian and General Knowledge among the Chinese (SDCGK), which was established in 1887 in Shanghai with the goal of reaching the literati and government officials of the ruling Qing court. One of the SDCGK’s early publications was Chengtong huabao/The Chinese Boys’ Own (1889–1891), a periodical that contained articles on natural history, biography, travel, history, science, and “the Romance of Missions.” Edited by D.S. Murray, it was described as “an exceedingly attractive publication” (C.F.R. 136). The Chinese Boy’s Own did not run for very long, possibly because its content was similar to the already established The Child’s Paper and the market was too small.

Although The Chinese Boy’s Own did not attract many readers, the monthly Happy Childhood Magazine (1915–1950) was more successful, with a circulation of “4,000 to 6,000 copies per issue” and included a readership of both Christians and “non-church members” (Ho 81). It was issued by the CLS but printed by the China Sunday School Union and edited by Elizabeth MacGillivray, wife of the general secretary of the CLS, Donald MacGillivray. Mrs. MacGillivray left the editorship of the magazine to T.S. Leung [Liang Desuo] in 1937. Leung had “wide experience in literary work … and brought all his artistic talent to bear in improving the appearance of the magazine” (M. Brown 117). The aim of the periodical was

to touch the very roots of the home and the state, to interpret Christian truth and to introduce scriptural knowledge to children by means of a correct psychological approach. It tells its story to the children in its own winning way and gathers them around the knees of the Children’s Friend. They enter not a mere fairy world, but a real world of love and joy and peace such as they never dreamed of or heard of before. And the children lead the parents also into it. (CLS Annual Report 1926–27 11)

This statement reflects the editors’ ambition to reach not only individual homes but the state, placing emphasis on psychological approaches and the child’s ability to influence the adult. It also highlights the originality of the work published in the periodical, which is something the implied child readers “never dreamed of or heard of before” (CLS Annual Report 1926–27 11). What distinguished this magazine from earlier ones is that most of “the short stories were written against a strong Chinese background, using common Chinese names and describing daily happenings which were familiar to its young readers” (Ho 229). The content of Happy Childhood reflects a stronger sensitivity towards the target audience’s interests. The implied child reader could find more characters to identify with in the magazine. In addition to serving as a window to different cultures, the content of Happy Childhood was a mirror for Chinese readers to see their own experiences reflected back to them. For example, in vol. 16 issue 11, there is a story entitled “shuanzi zhong de quanyu [Little Chuan Finally Healed]” about a sick boy who was cured by doctors in a missionary hospital after the people in the temple that his parents took him to could not help him.

Another CLS publication was a collection of short stories called Mugu gushi (1930) which includes stories about camels, chickens, dogs, and other animals. Many of these stories are didactic but they are written in easy-to-understand baihua (colloquial Chinese) rather than wenyan (classical Chinese). One story is about a forgetful girl named Shufang who is often scolded by her mom for not washing her hands or combing her hair. One night Shufang dreams of a little man named “Forget” who reminds her that she needs to get rid of vices such as “laziness,” “bad temper,” and “gluttony,” who all surround her like dwarves or elves. Although the protagonist has a common Chinese girl’s name, the accompanying illustration suggests that she is a Western child (see Figure 4). It is unclear whether this is a translation or an original Chinese story because no author or editor is credited.

Fig 4

Figure. 4. Shufang’s dream (Mugu gushi 8).

The CLS was more concerned with sales compared to the APMP, as an essay by Mrs. Donald MacGillivray entitled “The Travels of a C.L.S. Manuscript” reveals. According to MacGillivray, “Our object is to impart knowledge not to make dividends, though the financial side is often an anxiety” (80). She explains that a manuscript is considered by the Publications Committee, which is comprised of “nineteen members both men and women, eleven of whom are Chinese and eight foreigners” (MacGillivray 75). It is worth noting that there are more Chinese staff in the group compared to foreigners, indicating that there has been a shift in the power dynamics of mission presses in the early twentieth century. The members of the Committee evaluate the manuscript initially then send it to the relevant Sub-Committee, one of which is the “Women’s and Children’s Book” committee. They ask the following questions: “Would this if printed be a valuable addition to Christian Literature? Do they agree that it has a place in the Literature Programme which has been prepared? Is the style acceptable and suitable for the class of reader for which it is written? If printed, will it sell or be more likely to remain on the shelves of the godown gathering dust as the months roll on?” (MacGillivray 76). The article not only makes transparent the selection criteria used to evaluate a manuscript, it also illuminates the publication process. After discussing the questions listed above, the Committee gives the manuscript to two members for further scrutiny. If they are satisfied with the content, it goes back to the Publications Committee. If not, they will return it to the author. The Publications Committee decides on the total number of words, font type, paper, the size and layout of the book, chooses illustrations, and sets the retail price. Then the contract goes to the author. For children’s books, the illustrations “quite likely … have been drawn by [the] Chinese artist in the building” (MacGillivray 79). This detail suggests the importance the CLS placed on providing illustrations for children’s texts. The book is printed after proofs are checked and corrected and sold either in the CLS bookstore or sent to other areas via boats, trains, airplanes and other vehicles (MacGillivray 71–82). This process indicates a progression from reliance on the RTS and ATS for publishing resources to a more independent organisation that had more autonomy to choose what to publish.


As the case of the APMP, Chinese Religious Tract Society, and CLS reveals, many factors influenced the development of children’s literature in China. In the late nineteenth century, the translations of bestselling evangelical novels and tracts indicate the selection criteria for translation was based on the popularity of the source text in the country of origin rather than the suitability of the text for Chinese child audiences. Original works by Chinese authors were initially restricted in terms of the illustrations that would accompany the text until local Chinese students were trained to engrave tailored images for the periodicals. The APMP’s reliance on the ATS and RTS for electrotypes and funding suggests a transnational power dynamic where a small number of people decided which images would be available and included. Not only was the content restricted, the way the content was presented was also limited by the technology and paper resources available. Despite these constraints, mission presses played a vital role in introducing Western children’s literature into China and training the future generation of Chinese publishers.

Biographical note: Shih-Wen Sue Chen is a Lecturer in Literary Studies in the School of Communication and Creative Arts at Deakin University, Australia. She received her PhD in Literature, Screen and Theatre Studies from the Australian National University and was a post-doctoral research fellow at the Australian Centre on China in the World, ANU. She is the author of Representations of China in British Children’s Fiction, 1851–1911 (2013). Her work has been published in edited books as well as in Children’s Literature in Education, Papers: Explorations into Children’s Literature, and Australian Literary Studies. Her research interests include Victorian and Edwardian children’s literature, Chinese children’s literature, book history, histories of reading, and publishing history.

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The Mission Press in China: Being a Jubilee Retrospect of the American Presbyterian Mission Press, with Sketches of Other Mission Presses in China, as Well as Accounts of The Bible and Tract Societies at Work in China. Shanghai: American Presbyterian Mission Press, 1895.

Mo, Weimin and Wenju Shen. “The Twenty-Four Paragons of Filial Piety: Their Didactic Role and Impact on Children’s Lives.” Children’s Literature Association Quarterly, 24.1 (1999): 15–23.

Mott, Frank Luther. A History of American Magazines, 1850–1865. Cambridge, MA.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1938.

Mugu gushi. Shanghai: Christian Literature Society for China, 1930.

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Nevius, Helen. Haitong gushi. Shanghai: American Presbyterian Mission Press, 1883.

”Our Book Table, Review of Seaou hae yue paou.” The Chinese Recorder 5 (Sept-Oct, 1874): 303-304.

Rickard, Suzanne. “‘A Gifted Author’–Hesba Stretton and the Religious Tract Society.” From the Dairyman’s Daughter to Worrals of the WAAF: The RTS, Lutterworth Press and Children’s Literature. Eds Dennis Butts and Pat Garrett. Cambridge: Lutterworth, 2006. 104–115.

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Song, Lihua. Chanjiaoshi Hanwen xiaoshuo [Missionary Translations of Novels]. Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 2010.

“Summary of News.” The North-China Herald and Supreme Court and Consular Gazette 15 May 1875: 466–468.

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1 The quote in the title is taken from a review of the children’s periodical Seaou hae yue paou [sic, Xiaohai yuebao] published in The Chinese Recorder in 1874. The importance of publishing juvenile literature is highlighted in this review that praises mission presses’ attempts to produce quality children’s literature: “To write for children, and to write well, is perhaps one of the most difficult parts of this department. Yet it is well worth the pains to cultivate this kind of composition; and we therefore look with favour on every attempt that is made to create a juvenile literature” (“Our Book Table” 303-304).

2 Research trips to these archives were made possible by grants from Deakin University and the Australian National University.

3 The Chinese Recorder and Missionary Journal (c.1867–1941) was the main English-language periodical for disseminating news about China and missions to the foreign missionaries in the nineteenth century.

4 The North China Herald (1850–1941) was an influential weekly English newspaper printed in Shanghai that was widely read and distributed among foreigners in China.

5 The periodical had 250,000 subscribers a month in the first year and 348,000 by 1870 (Mott 100; C. Brown 157).

6 Farnham was one of the principals of Qingxin Shuyuan (Lowrie Institute). The school was named after the Lowrie family. Mrs. Reuben Lowrie was a missionary from the First Presbyterian Church in New York City who returned to the United States after her husband passed away. She formed the Society of “Earnest Workers for China,” which supported the school for many years. Her son J.M. Lowrie was a missionary at Paotingfu (First Fifty Years 4).

7 A kang is a sleeping platform that can be heated, commonly used in Northern China.


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