Creators of Modern China

100 Lives from Empire to Republic 1796–1912 (British Museum)


Discover the stories of 100 women and men whose activities in the 19th century laid the foundations of modern China


ISBN: 9780500480809 Category:


Discover the stories of 100 women and men whose activities in the 19th century laid the foundations of modern China.

Through telling the lives of one hundred significant individuals, this book explores how China transformed from dynastic empire to modern republican nation during the period 1796 to 1912.

Both famous and surprisingly little-known women and men are brought together in eight thematic sections that bring to life the complexities of China’s path to modernity. Featured figures include the Dowager Empress Cixi, the power behind the throne of the Qing dynasty for fifty years; Yu Rongling, the aristocratic daughter of a Qing diplomat who trained in Paris with Isadora Duncan and is now seen as one of the founders of modern dance in China; Shi Yang, the most powerful woman pirate in the world, celebrated in popular culture as a female icon; the Manchu-Chinese Duanfang, a lynchpin of late Qing government and an avid collector of international art, murdered by his own troops in the 1911 Revolution that ended dynastic rule; Luo Zhenyu, a pioneer of Chinese archaeology whose discoveries and research empirically confirmed the antiquity of Chinese civilization; and many others.

Written by an international team of specialists, this book populates the landscapes of modern Chinese history with extraordinary individuals, making sense of the drama and creativity of the country’s ‘long 19th century’.

Additional information

Weight 1098 g
Dimensions 18.1 x 24.8 cm
Publisher name Thames and Hudson Ltd
Publication date 22 July 2023
Number of pages 288
Format Hardback
Contributors Edited by Jessica Harrison-Hall and Julia Lovell
Dimensions 18.1 x 24.8 cm
Weight 1098 g


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Jessica Harrison-Hall is head of the China Section, Curator of the Sir Percival David Collections of Chinese Ceramics, and of Chinese Decorative Arts and Ceramics at the British Museum. Julia Lovell is Professor of Chinese History and Literature at Birkbeck, University of London. Her book The Opium War: Drugs, Dreams and the Making of China won the Jan Michalski Prize for Literature in 2012.