Sir Ernest Satow's Peking (Beijing) Diaries (1900-06) Made Readily Accessible at Last

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Japan-based historian Ian Ruxton announces the publication of the historically important diaries of Sir Ernest Satow (1843-1929) who was Britain's top diplomat in China (Beijing) after the Boxer Rebellion in 1900 for over five years.

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Japan-based historian Ian Ruxton, associate professor at Kyushu Institute of Technology, announces the publication of the historically important diaries of Sir Ernest Satow (1843-1929) who was Britain's top diplomat in China (Beijing) after the Boxer Rebellion in 1900 for over five years. This is the first time the diaries (two volumes, 810 pages including preface, introduction and index) have ever been published in book form (hardcover, paperback and e-book/download).

Satow is known widely for his "A Diplomat in Japan" based on his journal (diaries) for the period 1862-69. It was with this book that he made his name as a brilliant chronicler of historical events, in particular those leading to the Meiji Restoration of 1868. This account was first published in 1921, some eight years before the author's death.

Satow (perhaps deliberately to avoid being accused of revealing state secrets) never got round to publishing the rest of his diaries, but in his will he provided for them, along with many other papers and letters, to be deposited at the Public Record Office of the United Kingdom (now the UK National Archives) which happened in 1933. The Satow Papers (PRO 30/33 1-23) are still available at the archives to be consulted, and are a great fount of knowledge on the countries in which Satow served (Japan, Siam/Thailand, Uruguay, Morocco and China).

Ian Ruxton has already published Satow's Japan diaries for 1895-1900 when he returned to Japan after a twelve year absence, through Edition Synapse of Tokyo in 2003. The present two volumes pick up the story from where the last one left off, with Satow returning to England in May 1900 for a brief leave and to get instructions before taking up the more challenging Peking post.

Professor Ruxton has been working on the Satow papers since about 1994, gradually making more and more of them available for the enjoyment of the reading public and the edification of scholars worldwide. This is one more stage in that journey which has become his life's work as a scholar.

The Diaries of Sir Ernest Satow, British Envoy in Peking (1900-06) - Volume One (1900-03); Volume Two (1904-06)

Available in printed and download formats on from Ian Ruxton's storefront there ( ).

Printed books are available on

Some Reviews on

1) "A formidable and scholarly work" by Ashok Malhotra Sat Mar 18 09:34:37 2006

The two volumes entitled, the diaries of Sir Ernest Satow, by Ian Ruxton is a formidable and scholarly compilation that can only be produced by a dedicated scholar of the likes of Ruxton. Sir [Ernest] Satow was Britain's top diplomat in China replacing Sir Claude MacDonald in 1900. These volumes will undoubtedly prove to be an invaluable resource for historians, researchers and others interested in the era.

2) "The Journey-Man's Journey Continues." by johnhaines2004

Thu Mar 16 13:47:26 2006 last modified on Thu Mar 16 17:55:30 2006

This latest instalment from the studious mind and prolific pen of Ian Ruxton, brings Sir Ernest Satow, British Diplomat and sometime Minister in a number of important Far East postings, to life ( yet again ) in a way which the unprivileged observer from the great man's own time could never be privy to -- but, courtesy of Mr Ruxton's diligence and application, we most certainly are. These (later) extracts from Sir Ernest Satow's diary mainly centering on his later Chinese postings, are a fascinating combination of both the musings on proposed and pivotal official policy and decisions, and their effects during and after the fact -- and the more mundane matters such as 'met with..' 'had dinner...' 'cab to...' 'dinner at hotel..' and so on. Sometimes the mostly secretly held opinions recorded in the diaries gradually changed, such as was the case with Satow's opinion on the extreme use of force by British and allied forces during the Boxer Rebellion, which he initally agreed with at the time and in early retrospect; but much later, after settling in to his new and albeit initially vague tenure, ( was he really the Minister or was he an overseeing High Commissioner? ), came to the conclusion that the allies and their gunboats blasting away was entirely the wrong stategy to have adopted. Via assimilation of both the original recorded musings of Satow, and his digital reanimation courtesy of the highly accomplished specialist biographer Ian Ruxton, ( who is also a graduate in both Law and Modern Languages ) I feel as if I or any other reader could easily be on par with the brightest Oxbridge graduates who come out with honours degrees in Oriental Studies. Another great work of preservation and presentation by the aforesaid scribe. Well done.

3) Knowing the Complexity of the Time 4 Jun 2006

by Robert Long

In going through Volume One of Ernest Satow's Diaries when he was a British Envoy in Peking, I was struck by how progressive Satow was in opposing his former chief in Tokyo, Sir Harry Parkes who believed that force was the best way of dealing with the "Orientals." Satow also favored a polite and less blustering response in punishing China for the Imperial support of the Boxer rebellion. The author, Ian Ruxton, does an excellent job at providing the needed details for understanding this rare and progressive figure; one that most of today's politicians could learn from, no doubt. Also we get a rare glimpse of how his colleagues jockeyed for power in the court of Peking, and how Satow was involved with the Russian-Japanese war. Keeping in mind that this was a incredible time of change, industrialization,and a time in which borders were changed, and new countries and new forms of government were established, we can see that this was a time for great diplomacy! This book has, in short, shown what a great figure Ernest Satow was and how complex the issues truly were.

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