June 8, 2021

Edward Rutherfurd: China and Queen Victoria (1839)

In this playful episode with the novelist Edward Rutherfurd, we venture east and back to the mid-nineteenth-century.

By 1839 Chinese patience with the British-run opium trade was running thin. Rutherfurd explains how a confrontation between the ancient, proud and insular Chinese and the merchant adventurers of the West had become inevitable and how, had he the chance, he would have tried to stop it.

Edward Rutherfurd is one of Britain’s great authors. Over the past 40 years he has written eight bestsellers, including his epic novel Sarum, which spent 23 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Rutherfurd's latest book, China, engages with the historical context we explore in this episode.

As ever, much, much more about this episode is to be found at our website tttpodcast.com.

Show notes

Scene One: June, 1839. Chinese Commissioner Lin burns thousands of chests of opium confiscated from British (and also American) merchants. This sets off the famous Opium Wars that so profoundly affect the attitude of China towards the West to this day.

Scene Two: October, 1839. The engagement of Victoria and Albert at Windsor Castle.

Scene Three: The following morning, October, 1839. Windsor Castle with all the newly-purchased equipment to make a Daguerrotype photograph.

Memento: An egg boiled by Warren Delano during the siege of the 'factories' at Canton.


Presenter: Peter Moore

Guest: Edward Rutherfurd

Production: Maria Nolan

Podcast partner: Colorgraph

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