Betty Steel's Diary - impressions of an upbringing in 1920s Hong Kong

Submitted by fergusmacdermot on Tue, 06/10/2014 - 20:40

Impressions of an upbringing in Hong Kong 1910-1933.

My grandmother was a meticulous diary keeper, though I'm not sure when all this was compiled. Apart from taking out the first ten or so pages that are devoted to  early childhood in Wei Hai We, where her and her sister were born, I have not editted it. The pictures are all from her photo albums. Some of them are postcards from the time.


Book type
Diary / Memoir
Dates of events covered by this document

Sample pages


Audrey  and  I  were  born  on  the  island  of  Liu  Kung  Tao  (Duke  Liu's
Island) off  the  coast  of  Shantung  in  North  China. Shantung  means
"East  of  the  Mountains". The  Island  was  part  of  the  territory  of
Wei  Hai  Wei  which  had  been  leased  to  Great  Britain  in  1898  to  be  a
summer  base  for  the  Royal  Navy's  China  Fleet. The  leased  territory  on
the  Chinese  mainland  consisted  of  the  …

In  September  1915  we  left  Wei  Hai  Wei  for  Hong  Kong,  our  father
having  been  appointed  to  the  Victualling  Store  Office  in  Kowloon.
I  was  almost  five  years  old  and  Audrey  was  three.

We  went  to  live  at  Eden  Court,  a  boarding  house  in  Kowloon  run  by
Mrs.  Railton.    It  was  a  large  house  with  a  garden  and  tennis  court, 
and a  bamboo  grove.    We  were  told  not  to  go  into  it,  because 
of  the  bamboo…


I  think  it  was  in  the  Autumn  of  1917  that  Mamma  joined  the 
staff  of Shewan,  Tomes  and  Co.,  the  mercantile  firm  in  Chater Road,  as  an  accountant. We left  Kowloon,  and  Mamma  went  to
live  at  the  Helena  May  Institute,  ladies'  club  in  Garden  Road, 
while  Audrey and  I  became  boarders  at  the Italian  Convent  in
Caine  Road *.

My  only  memories  of  this  school  are  unhappy  ones.   …