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Description and travel, William Wightman Wood, Guangzhou, Canton, Social life and customs, China, Chinese, 19th century, 20th century, Traveling, Americans, Westerners, Western authors, Travelogues, Diplomats, Women travelers, Government officials, Explorers, Missionaries, China through western eyes, Chinese Studies in the West, The Chinese Record, Sinology, Sinology study, Chinese studies


This book talk was organized by the Guangzhou Book Club and it was aimed to introduce the newly translated and published book《洋记者的广州城记》(English title: Sketches of China: with Illustrations from Original Drawings). The original English book was written by William Wightman Wood (1804-), an American journalist, businessman and cartoonist, who went to Canton, China in 1825 and created one of the first English newspapers in China, The Canton Register. This book is about his impressions and experiences of Canton and the southern China in the 1820s, all based on his travel notes. Canton was the only city which was open to the westerners during the 1820s before the first Opium War. The Westerners got to know China through Canton and the Chinese got to see the world through these foreigners. While Wood wanted to present “the result of a careful observation” of the Chinese, and to convey “unprejudiced idea(s) of China and its inhabitants,” the book does show his varied and honest opinions, sometimes with a hint of “orientalism.” However, with close to 100 topics on Canton, China and the Chinese, it offers not just a glimpse of, but also some interesting and insightful ideas of Canton the city, China and its people during that time. The book was proofread and corrected by Professor Guoqing Li. It is part of the book series “The Lost Memory of Canton in the West” and published by the Guangdong People’s Publishing House.

Besides introducing the book, this talk also discussed a variety of books on Canton and the westerners’ experiences in Canton and China from the early 19th century to the 20th century, covering topics such as China and the Chinese in travelogues, diplomates’ experiences & observations, women travelers, missionaries and writers, wars: participated or witnessed, government officials, explorers and missionaries’ experiences & observations.

This talk was delivered in Mandarin, and it can also be accessed via the Guangzhou Book Club’s WeChat Page at

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Original Citation

Deng, S. (2022). Canton through western eyes: resources & Wood’s Sketches of China. Guangzhou Book Club book sharing, online. August 7, 2022. Retrieved from

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


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