A timely, well-researched, and “illuminating” (The New York Times Book Review) new history of Hong Kong that reveals the untold stories of the diverse peoples who have made it a multicultural world metropolis—and whose freedoms are endangered today.
Hong Kong has always been many cities to many people: a seaport, a gateway to an empire, a place where fortunes can be dramatically made or lost, a place to disappear and reinvent oneself, and a melting pot of diverse populations from around the globe. A British Crown Colony for 155 years, Hong Kong is now ruled by the Chinese Communist Party. Here, renowned journalist Vaudine England delves into Hong Kong’s complex history and its people—diverse, multi-cultural, cosmopolitan—who have made this one-time fishing village into the world port city it is today.
Rather than a traditional history describing a town led by British Governors or a mere offshoot of a collapsing Chinese empire, Fortune’s Bazaar is “a winning portrait of Hong Kong’s vibrant mosaic” (Publishers Weekly). While British traders and Asian merchants had long been busy in the Indian and South East Asian seas, many people from different cultures and ethnic backgrounds arrived in Hong Kong, met, and married—despite all taboos—and created a distinct community. Many of Hong Kong’s most influential figures during its first century as a city were neither British nor Chinese—they were Malay or Indian, Jewish or Armenian, Parsi or Portuguese, Eurasian or Chindian—or simply, Hong Kongers. England describes those overlooked in history, including the opium traders who built synagogues and churches; ship owners carrying gold-rush migrants; the half-Dutch, half-Chinese gentleman with two wives who was knighted by Queen Victoria; and the gardeners who settled Kowloon, the mainland peninsula facing the island of Hong Kong, and became millionaires.
A story of empire, race, and sex, Fortune’s Bazaar presents a “fresh…essential” (Ian Buruma), “formidable and important” (The Correspondent) history of a special place—a unique city made by diverse people of the world, whose part in its creation has never been properly told until now.
About the Author
Vaudine England has been a journalist in Hong Kong and South East Asia for years. As a historian, she has focused on the diverse personalities and peoples that have gone into making Hong Kong a cosmopolitan Asian metropolis. She is the author of The Quest of Noel Croucher: Hong Kong’s Quiet Philanthropist as well as several privately published works of Hong Kong history and biography.
"Illuminating. . . . England rejects a tale-of-two-cities approach to the history of Hong Kong’s colonization, embracing the in-between lives of those who made it." —The New York Times Book Review
“Wonderful . . . a vivid, entertaining guide, rich in anecdote and understanding for an early globalised world that has gone.” —The Sunday Times (UK)
“In Fortune’s Bazaar, Vaudine England examines [Hong Kongers], these ‘in-between people,’ as she calls them, and their often overlooked role in the development of Hong Kong into a cosmopolitan, world-class city. . . . [With] impressive research, Fortune’s Bazaar is less a straightforward narrative than a history told through the stories of Eurasians and other mixed-culture residents. . . . readers will be rewarded with an enhanced understanding of what it means to be a Hong Konger.” —Wall Street Journal
“To call a history ‘rollicking’ may indicate that it isn’t serious, but Fortune’s Bazaar is both. Vaudine England’s well-written take on the historical record is likely to delight anyone who loves Hong Kong.” —Asian Review of Books
"A formidable and important work of historical scholarship. . . . England has a fluent, vigorous prose style. . . . Even people who have read just about everything there is to read about Hong Kong will find their own outlook overturned by this excellent book." —The Correspondent
“Extensively researched and accessibly written, this is a winning portrait of Hong Kong’s vibrant mosaic.” —Publishers Weekly
“[With] deep research, an ambitious swath of Hong Kong social history, notable for particular insights about Eurasian entrepreneurs and dynasties.”—Kirkus Reviews
“At last: a lively and carefully researched page turner about the individuals and social forces that have made Hong Kong the dynamic (and quirky) place it is.” —Adi Ignatius, Editor in Chief, Harvard Business Review, and former Wall Street Journal Bureau Chief in Beijing
“As a history of Hong Kong, not just as a British colony, or an exotic Chinese enclave, but as a cosmopolitan city of many creeds and races, Asian and European, Vaudine England’s book is unsurpassed. Her take on the so-called Eurasians, who have played such a large part in Hong Kong’s history, is fresh and essential to a better understanding of this unique place.” —Ian Buruma
“Hong Kong is not just about the Chinese and the British but also about all the in-between people who helped build the city and made it their home. In this wonderfully quixotic and deeply researched history, Vaudine England has delved into Hong Kong’s history to bring to life the Eurasians, Armenians, Portuguese, Parsis, Muslims, Jews, and others who have played such a crucial role since 1841 in making it a commercial and cultural hub in east Asia.” —Victor Mallet, former Asia editor, Financial Times, and author of The Trouble with Tigers: The Rise and Fall of South-East Asia
“Vivid, atmospheric, packed with brilliant story-telling, Vaudine England brings to life the boiling pot of race, culture, and ambition that made Hong Kong one of the world’s great cities. Within this compelling read, Fortune’s Bazaar boldly explodes the myth that Hong Kong is ‘just another Chinese city.’ Not at all, England gives us the story of the visionary, deal-making, itinerant Eurasian elite who created this unique, international place that is Hong Kong.” —Humphrey Hawksley, former BBC Beijing, Hong Kong and Asia correspondent, and author of Dragon Strike: The Millennium War
“If you love Hong Kong and have lost her, as have I, Vaudine England’s marvelous account of the ‘in-between people,’ who made it the remarkable place it was, will fill you with wonder, understanding, and a sadness for a place—and an idea—that no longer exists.” —Richard Hornik, former Time Bureau Chief in Beijing and Hong Kong