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The Silent Traveller

January 14, 2024
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

6 Responses leave one →
  1. Peter McGee permalink
    January 14, 2024

    Thank you for mentioning Chiang Yee (real name Chiang Chung -ya) who was a remarkable writer, artist and poet. His other books on Oxford, The Lake District, Dublin, etc, are equally wonderful !
    Peter McGee

  2. January 14, 2024

    What a talented artist. As an outsider, he distilled the London experience.

  3. Margarita Schwartzel permalink
    January 14, 2024

    Ah! These pictures are at once delightful and refreshing! (From 1938?!) Pictures of the familiar but from a talented “outsider’s” point of view. Thank you for bringing them to our attention.

  4. January 15, 2024

    A diverse and beautiful set of illustrations. The first definitely looks as if it depicts a classic oriental scene. Others seem to be typical of London character portraits. A very talented artist to portray such different styles.

  5. January 15, 2024

    Wonderfully silent and fitting impressions of English sensitivities. The “coronation scene” in the subway could well have been in 1937.

    Love & Peace

  6. Wendy permalink
    January 16, 2024

    How beautiful these pictures are. GA, you inspired me to look for a copy of this book and I found one for a good price. I also found his book about Oxford. So, now I am patiently waiting for my postman to bring them to me.

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