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The Silent Traveller

February 17, 2020
by the gentle author

When I encountered the work of Chiang Yee (1903-77) writing as ‘The Silent Traveller’ I knew I had discovered a kindred spirit in self-effacement. These fine illustrations are from his book ‘The Silent Traveller in London’ published in 1938 and I am fascinated by his distinctive vision which renders familiar subjects anew.

‘This book is to be a sort of record of all the things I have talked over to myself during these five years in London, where I have been so silent,’ he wrote, ‘I am bound to look at things from a different angle, but I have never agreed with people who hold that the various nationalities differ greatly from each other. They may be different superficially, but they eat, drink, sleep, dress, and shelter themselves from the wind and rain in the same way.’

Summer afternoon in Kew Gardens

Morning mist in St James’s Park

Snow on Hampstead Heath

Early Autumn in Kenwood

Fog in Trafalgar Sq

Coalman in the rain

Umbrellas Under Big Ben

Deer in Richmond Park

Seagulls in Regent’s Park

At the Whitechapel Gallery

London faces in a public bar

London faces in winter

Coronation night in the Underground

Jubilee night in Trafalgar Sq

London faces at a Punch & Judy show

Images copyright © Estate of Chiang Yee

You may also like to take a look at

Ebbe Sadolin’s London

Izis Bidermanas’ London

20 Responses leave one →
  1. February 17, 2020

    Thanks for publishing these. They are incredible.

  2. mem permalink
    February 17, 2020

    What wonderful drawings. They do look “oriental” .I think its the trees . They are so reminiscent of the wonderful art of China. Absolutely lovely .Thanks for sharing .

  3. Jill Wilson permalink
    February 17, 2020

    Absolutely beautiful!

    I especially love the stylised trees – who knew London trees could look so oriental? And the foggy scene of Trafalgar Square is brilliantly rendered.

    I also love the humorous pictures of Londoners, especially the winter scene (let’s hope they have all just got colds, not something more serious…)

  4. Jean Clements permalink
    February 17, 2020

    Love the drawings and the concept. Ordered a copy of the book.

  5. February 17, 2020

    You’re totally right, Chiang Yee shows familiar subjects from a different perspective, but as he himself said, we are not that different no matter where we were born. Wonderful pictures. Thank you for reminding me about Chiang Yee, I had forgotten him.

  6. February 17, 2020

    More unknown treasure. Thank you.

  7. Caroline Bottomley permalink
    February 17, 2020

    Oh they are SO beautiful and evocative. The fog, the mists. The deer in Richmond Park and the umbrellas. I love them immensely, thanks GA

  8. Ros Dick permalink
    February 17, 2020

    Yes exquisite but also humorous
    The umbrellas of course v apposite
    Love the Whitechapel gallery art viewer been there done that!!

  9. Liz Thompson permalink
    February 17, 2020

    These paintings are so lovely. I must try and get hold of the book. Thank you

  10. February 17, 2020

    Greetings from Boston,

    GA, what charming l illustrations in Chiang Yee’s THE SILENT TRAVELLER. Such a careful observer of nature in public parks and of people in public life.

    Particularly enjoyed “Coronation night in the Underground” and “Jubilee night in Trafalgar Sq.” Absolutely delightful! Gracias…

  11. Kay permalink
    February 17, 2020

    This is a wonderful book. I bought my copy many years ago and re-read it often. It evokes fond memories of London also time spent in China. I appreciate Chiang Yee’s balanced style of writing, his beautiful drawings, a book I will always treasure.

    Thank you

  12. paul loften permalink
    February 17, 2020

    On seeing these illustrations one word instantly came to my mind. Unique

  13. Saba permalink
    February 17, 2020

    Exquisite ink drawings. Fog in Trafalgar Square is especially beautiful. Thank you, thank you!

  14. Marnie Sweet permalink
    February 17, 2020

    Enchanting. Delicate, evocative, a new perspective. Thank you, GA.

  15. Catherine permalink
    February 17, 2020

    It’s always wonderful to be reminded of Chiang Yee. He wrote similar and equally lovely books about San Francisco, Edinburgh, Japan and Oxford, among other places. All worth seeking out.

  16. February 18, 2020

    I Love these Paintings and hope I can she more. Thank You So Very Much!!????????

  17. Judith permalink
    February 19, 2020

    How lovely to see these! I grew up with my parent’s copies of the Silent Traveller books, and used to love reading them, for their gentle humour and insights, and the beautiful illustrations, in which scenes looked both familiar and mysterious. They were the first Chinese art I ever saw.

    I have always wondered who Chiang Yee was, and why his books and his art seem to have been almost forgotten.

  18. March 1, 2020

    What amazingly beautiful drawings. I confess I have not previously heard of Chiang Yee. I feel inspired just looking at them here. Thank you.

  19. April 10, 2021

    Thank you for sharing! these are amazing and love them all, reminds me of my previous life living in London 🙂

  20. Don Morris permalink
    September 28, 2021

    I have a complete collection of then silent traveller series, would not be without them

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