Sir John Bowring in Asia: A Superfluity of Sail

Presented by Mr Philip Bowring

John Bowring (1792-1872) is a familiar name in Thailand as the author of the Bowring Treaty with King Mongkut, has a mixed reputation in Hong Kong, where he was governor, is seen as an imperialist by Chinese nationalists for starting the Arrow war. His ten years in Asia (1849-59) were the culmination of an amazingly diverse career: From a modest trading family to scholar of Spanish literature, polyglot, Unitarianism, hymn writing, associate of Jeremy Bentham, radical politics in and out of parliament, the early promotion of free trade in Britain and around Europe, public accounts reform, currency decimalisation, and entrepreneurship in iron and railways. It is perhaps not surprising that as plenipotentiary and governor his energy and commitment to liberalism often ran ahead of pragmatism. But he left indelible marks in Asia, as elsewhere, mostly beneficial. Much has been written about the different aspects of his career and family but “Free Trade’s First Missionary” recently published by Hong Kong University Press is the first to distil all of these, and more, into a biography covering his whole life, and with a particular emphasis on the Asian decade.

8 July 2015

Where: The Royal Astronomical Society, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1

Commences at 1.15pm

A Sandwich lunch with wine and/or soft drinks is available from 12.30pm but must be booked in advance by the previous day. £10 with wine or £7 with soft drink.

Tickets: Members and their guests only. Free

27 SEP

UPCOMING EVENT

Under the Same Shade: Three Years of Working on the Roof of the World

Where: The Royal Asiatic Society, 14 Stephenson Way, London NW1 (Nearest tube stations Euston Square and Euston mainline).

Lecture starts at 1.15pm and finishes by 2.30pm. The sandwich lunch, from 12.30pm, must be booked by 2.30pm the day before.

Tickets: Free

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