History in the making

(China Daily)
Updated: 2008-03-11 09:33

Two people are important in Adam Williams' life, or to be more exact, why he chose to write and how he wrote it.

He said he was lucky to be taught as a schoolboy by George Shipway (1908-82), one of the most successful historical novelists of his time, and that his teacher was writing in the tradition of Alfred Duggan (1903-64), whom Adam considers the master in this regard. It is from this teacher that he made up his mind that "if I was to write a book, it would be in the historical fiction genre."

Even more important for his writing of historical novels are his connections with China, which are soaked in blood and have become a complex inner world. Even before talking to him and listening to his fluent Chinese, one can find traces of these connections - from traditional Chinese paintings to one depicting the battle between the Boxers and allied forces in Langfang, a place between Beijing and Tianjin.

Everything about China, including food and getting things done in business, speaks of his obsession with this old Eastern culture. Writing about it is the only way for him to relieve himself of this obsession.

He is the fourth generation of his family to be living and working in China. Born in Hong Kong, 1953, he is the third generation of his family to be born in this country.

His great grandfather was a medical missionary, who established his practice in a small village near Changchun, Jilin province (which was part of Manchuria in the 1890s). Adam's great grandfather, Dr David Dickson Muir, narrowly escaped with his life when Boxers attacked his mission in 1900.

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