researching maternal grandmother Sun Yi, journalist in Hong Kong between 1958-1977 | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

researching maternal grandmother Sun Yi, journalist in Hong Kong between 1958-1977

My name is Tessa Hulls and I'm an American artist ( working on a graphic novel about my maternal grandmother, Sun Yi, who was a journalist and author in Hong Kong between 1958-1977. 

Eight Years in Communist Shanghai, by Sun Yi, published in Hong Kong in 1958
Eight Years in Communist Shanghai, by Sun Yi, published in Hong Kong in 1958, by Sun Yi
Sun Yi and Rose Hulls, 1958
Sun Yi and Rose Hulls, 1958, by tessa.hulls
Sun Yi was a journalist in Shanghai during the communist takeover, and in 1949, she had an affair with a Swiss diplomat and became pregnant with my mother. My mother never met her father, and in 1958, the two of them fled to Hong Kong, where my grandmother wrote an autobiography titled "Eight Years in Communist Shanghai: Love, Starvation, Persecution." 

Sun Yi used the proceeds from her book to enroll my mom as a boarder at Diocesan Girls' School, but shortly thereafter, my grandmother's lifelong struggles with mental illness came to a head and she experienced a psychotic breakdown and was institutionalized at Castle Peak Hospital in the early 1960's. In 1970, my mother immigrated to the US on a college scholarship and brought my grandmother over seven years later, but in spite of them communicating solely in Shanghainese and Cantonese, they unfortunately did not teach me or my brother to speak Chinese. 

I received a research grant to have my grandmother's autobiography translated into English, and received a second grant to travel to Hong Kong to learn what I can about my mothers and grandmother's lives, and will be in Hong Kong during November and December. There are many things I am trying to learn about, and was hoping this community might have resources or suggestions for some of the following topics that I am trying to look into: 

-Castle Peak Hospital, and psychiatric care in in Hong Kong in the 1960's 
-attitudes towards Eurasian children in the 1950's-1970's 
-Camel Press, 駱駝出發社 (sadly, I cannot read the Chinese characters), the publishers of my grandmother's book 
-the Hong Kong Times newspaper, which my grandmother wrote for, and its Editor in Chief Lee Chui Sun, who was my grandmother's boyfriend 
-journalism in Hong Kong in general between 1950-1970
-the history of immigration and refugees in the 1950's 
-the early history of DGS 
-gender roles and attitudes towards women between 1950-1970

I will be in Hong Kong for almost two months on this research trip, and would love to meet up with any members of this community while I am there. Thank you so much for any help you might be able to offer, 

-Tessa Hulls 


Hi there,

That is quite a daunting task.  Good luck.

You might like to take a look at these tidbits:

1.   Castle Peak Hospital is still around.  There is a history section in their 'About Us'.  The Hospital Authority has an enquiry mailbox (  I would not expect speedy replies though;

2.   Hong Kong Times stopped their presses in 17th February 1993 and exited.  What's left was their building at the corner of Luard & Gloucester Road.  Now it is called Pico Tower, after a few transactions.  It did not look like this back then.  I could not recall exactly how it looked in the 1970's, but it looked greenish.  After the paper folded the KMT sold the building with just a fraction of the market price, which stirred up quite a bit of an incident;

3.    DGS is still there.  Actually they just completed a redevelopment of the whole site a few years ago.  You may try to contact them and see if they could proide any information;

4.    Despite it reads 香港 駱駝出發社, I believe it is based in Taiwai (no surprise).  Unfortunately I'm unable to find any current information about it.  Might as well become inactive some time ago;  Googling it might yield a few 2nd hand books is all;

Sorry, couldn't be of much help on these.


One source is the book "Looking at the stars: Memoirs of Catherine Joyce Symons" (1996 Pegasus) ISBN 962-8018-02-7, as she was headmistress at DGS from 1953.

Thank you so much for this information! That's so interesting to learn that the publishing company was based out of Taiwan. Was it common practice for Hong Kong authors to publish based out of Taiwain? 

I had contacted the general email at Castle Peak a few months ago and did receive a general reply, but haven't made much headway in getting past basic visitor information. I have had a few people suggest specific contacts who work at Castle Peak, and will keep trying to get ahold of someone individually. 

Some of my mom's classmates from DGS stil live in Hong Kong and are being quite helpful with that side of the research. 

Thank you for the information and pictures of the Hong Kong times!

Thank you, David! I will add that to my reading list. 

Hi there,

With the Hong Kong Times and its links to the KMT in Taiwan, I wouldn't be surprised if anything dissing the Communists was welcomed by them.  

That said, I googled for the publisher and primarily come up with books by Taiwanese authors.  That was my speculation that the publisher was in Taiwan.  I'm unable to find out if it is still active though.  Might need some time to look into Library Indices for clues.  You might like to go to the Central Library while you are in town.



Ah, that makes a lot of sense—I'm guessing that because my grandma was in a relationship with the editor of the Hong Kong Times, he may have connected her with a Taiwanese publisher through his professional networks. 

For "Castle Peak Hospital, and psychiatric care in in Hong Kong in the 1960's", I wonder if The Hong Kong College of Psychiatrists could help. Maybe one of their staff or graduates is interested in the history and has gathered information?

Thanks, David! I just sent them an email. 

Hello Tessa

I should have checked my emails whilst I was in HK as I literally just got back to the UK after couple of weeks there. I note that you are in touch with a few of your Mum''s classmates. Have you tried contacting the DOGA (Diocesan Old Girls Association)? I think your Mum was 3 classes above me when she was in DGS, but she may have known my sister who was  a year below her or my cousin who was a year above her. My family is Eurasian and I grew up in HK and left in 1973. It was normal for Eurasian to speak Cantonese but not to read or write Chinese so growing up in HK in the 1950s 1960s was interesting.  My father was for many years a sub-Editor at Reuters and then he was Chief Press Officer in the Government Information Services throughout the 1960/1970s. I also know quite a bit about psychiatric care in HK.

If you would like to email me, I would be happy to  correspond with you on any of the above issues.

Y Willis

Hi Y Willis, I would LOVE to email you and chat further! I have emailed the DOGA and have also been spending time with Kim Fenton, whom you may know from DGS? What would be the best way to get in contact with you? My email address is Thank you so much for your thougthful reply! 

1. 駱駝出版社is a publisher under the Liwen Publishing Group in Taiwan, The last book it published I found in a online bookstore is in 1994.

2. One of the reporters at the HK Times was the ex Ligislative Counciler Raymond Wong Yuk-man!!!