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letters-from-manchuria-front-cover-12cmw-200ppi-rgbOn Saturday 21st January

12 noon – 1pm

Neil T. Sinclair

will be in Waterstones Sunderland

signing his book

Letters from Manchuria – The Story of Marion Young missionary in Japanese-occupied China

ISBN: 978-0-9935078-1-6

17a newspaper article greyscale cropped ..cmW 200ppiIn 1935 Marion Young arrived in China to work as a missionary sponsored by the Girls’ Auxiliary of the Presbyterian church’s Women’s Association for Foreign Mission. For for the next six years she wrote weekly letters home to her parents in Ireland. Her letters give a vivid picture of life in the market town of Faku and also of the villages in Inner Mongolia which she visited as part of her mission work.


Helen and Neil working on the book.

Neil Sinclair and his wife, Helen, spent over a year sorting through the hundreds of letters which Helen’s mother, Marion Young, had sent home during the years from 1935 – 1941 when she was working in Japanese-occupied China. They then transcribed extracts from the letters with Helen reading and Neil typing into the computer. Next came the task of deciding which photos to use in the book ‘Letters from Manchuria’. It is a fascinating story of a young woman working in a remote and harsh place, the political and social history of north east China, and of the resilience of the people who live there.


This photograph is of Marion’s senior colleague, Dr O’Neill’s 70th birthday party: Marion wrote home –
The 70th birthday is a very big day in a Chinese family, so we are to be his family and act things out. Joey and I are going as twins – his granddaughters.

In the photo Marion is 5th from the left and Joey McCausland is 7th from the left. Dr Frederick and Annie O’Neill sit in the centre.

marion-companion-with-baggage-bearer-200ppi-greyThis photograph shows Marion travelling with Wang Ssu Wen to visit one of the small ‘churches’ in the area surrounding Faku. The church was often a small family group with a Deacon.
Marion wrote home –
We were cycling straight into a north wind … a man carried our luggage on a long pole over his shoulder – about 80 lbs – no small weight for that distance (18 – 20 miles).

111) Pg 214 MCY & Miss Wang grey 8cmW 200ppiMarion and Ssu Wen would stay in the Deacon’s house, often also the church. The house in the photo is luxurious compared to most.

Marion wrote home –

This photograph will give you some idea of what a k’ang looks like. The bedding is rolled to the back during the day. The chests at the side hold everything … in the foreground is a stove with a kettle on – that isn’t proper Chinese …

060 pg 78 Little Peace and Happy Grace greyscale 6cmW 400pp lighter12iMarion felt at home with the Chinese people from the start.

She wrote home about ‘Little Peace’ and ‘Happy Grace’ –

They are both about 3 years old and the greatest of friends. En Fu runs with a shriek of “Ping An! To lie la!” (Ping An she’s coming) when I heave into sight.

When writing about the oppression of Japanese rule, to avoid the censors Marion used coded words. On the rare occasion when she could send a letter back by hand with colleagues going on furlough she could be more open.  

They treat folk a bit more kindly before freeing them, to give the marks of beating or torture a chance to clear up – isn’t that a bright thought?

You can buy a copy of this book from www.littleknollbookshop.co.uk or by emailing Jenny@littleknollpress.co.uk

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