London: George Routledge, 1853. Hardcover. An unusual yellowback edition of this work on the Taiping rebellion, 1850-1864, the first instance of total war in China, which brought in a new religion and a new dynasty. Hundreds of cities were destroyed in this war; millions of lives were lost and the Qing dynasty required the help of the British and French in order to suppress the rebels. The rebellion was instigated by Hong Xiuquan and his followers, whose goal was to create a "Heavenly Kingdom" in China, with Christianity as the official religion, as well as social reforms such as shared property, equality for women, and the replacement of traditional Chinese religions.
The yellowback features a red paper pictorial cover with illustration of the rebellion's leader within an ornate Chinese architectural frame. The price (one shilling) is printed across the roof line of the Chinese style structure framing the illustration. We have not found other examples of Charles MacFarlane's work in yellowback edition; this volume also unusual in that it differs from the usual light topic material in yellowback fiction. It is also quite timely, being written as the Taiping Rebellion was unfolding, and demonstrates the increased interest of the Victorian reading public in sophisticated but inexpensive reading material.
16mo, vii, 243 pp, ads , including advertisement at rear inside rear board, folding frontispiece map. Boards rubbed and worn, sympathetically rebacked, rear board with advertisement for "cheap editions of popular works". A tight bright copy, the only detraction if there is one, is a blind library stamp at the top of the title page. An inexpensive binding, meant to be purchased at a railway station by a British traveler. Ex-Syracuse Library with bookplate. OCLC: 9003634. Very good condition. Item #21166