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"The Mercenary Mandarin"


David Leffman
Location: 23/F, Euro Trade Centre, 21-23 Des Voeux Rd Central, Central
(this venue is 10 seconds walk from MTR Central Station Exit A)

Date: Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Complimentary Drinks Reception 6.30 pm ; Lecture 7.30 pm

Registration method: Registration at the event
The Royal Geographical Society is pleased to welcome David Leffman to speak on "The Mercenary Mandarin”.  In this talk, Mr Leffman covers the extraordinary life of Victorian British adventurer William Mesny, who spent of his adult life in China, becoming a smuggler, a prisoner of the Taiping rebels, an arms dealer and a decorated general in the Qing military. 
William Mesny spoke fluent Chinese, was twice married to Chinese women and spent twenty-five years travelling right around the country, to the remote borders with Burma, Tibet, Central Asia and Vietnam. He investigated mining opportunities, collected new species of plants, survived several assassination attempts and proposed modern infrastructure projects to government officials. 

William Mesny also knew famous statesmen such as Li Hongzhang, Ding Baozhen and Zuo Zongtang personally, and served as an advisor on modernisation to the influential reformer Zhang Zhidong. He also wrote opinionated newspaper articles about everything he saw, including the Taiping, Miao and Hui rebellions, and the wars with France, Russia and Japan. Settling down at Shanghai in 1885, Mr Mesny’s career floundered after he became embroiled in a notorious illegal arms-dealing case, and - partly to restore his reputation - he published a long-running magazine about his experiences, Mesny's Chinese Miscellany (1895–1905).

David Leffman is a British travel writer and photographer who first visited China in 1985 and has since authored guidebooks to China and Hong Kong, as well as Australia, Indonesia and Iceland for Rough Guides and Dorling Kindersley Eyewitness.  During guidebook research in Guizhou, he started researching William Mesny and the part he played fighting the Miao in their uprising of 1854–72.  He then spent fifteen years researching Mesny’s life for a biography, The Mercenary Mandarin, published in 2016.
Members of the RGS, their guests and others are most welcome to attend this event, which is HK$150 for RGS Members and HK$200 for guests and others, including a complimentary glass of red or white wine.
The Royal Geographical Society - Hong Kong
Tel: (852) 2583 9700   |  Fax: (852) 2140 6000
Email: events@rgshk.org.hk  |  Web: www.rgshk.org.hk
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