Old Asia Photography


Author: Compiled and introduced by Terry Bennett
Complete Record of Reported Events, 1853-1899

Published by Global Oriental, 2006. 300x215mm, 411pp, harback

A complete record of every Japan-related article that appeared in The Illustrated London News from 1853 until 1899.

The Illustrated London News, launched in 1842, was the world's first illustrated newspaper and an immediate success. Its first report on Japan, however, was not until eleven years later when as a result of Commodore Perry's much discussed plan to 'open' Japan it published a substantial piece entitled 'The United States Expedition to Japan' in the issue of 7 May 1853, opening with the portentous words: 'The presence of a large and powerful American fleet in the Eastern Seas possesses an unexpected interest at the present moment...'

Various reports by unnamed correspondents continued for the next eight years, until August 1 861 when Charles Wirgman's first report with illustrations appeared. Described as 'Our Special Artist and Correspondent', Wirgman was to be the ILN's principal source for reporting on Japan for many years, and famously reported the attack on the British Legation in July 1861 and the British bombardment of Shimonoseki in 1864. After the mid-1870s Wirgman's input declined and the work of other artists and reporters appeared instead. The ILN's own obituary on Wirgman was published on 28 March 1891.

By the late 1880s new photogravure printing technology was in place and the appearance of the paper changed significantly. Furthermore, the reporting from Japan diminished noticeably; indeed, there were a number of years in the period featured in this volume when not a single item on Japan appeared. But in the mid-i 890s the ILN carried indepth reports on the Sino-Japanese War (1 894-5), to the virtual exclusion of any other stories, and then reported nothing for the following two years.

This volume concludes in 1899, the year of ratification of the ending of the Unequal Treaties between Japan and the Great Powers, which had major implications for Japan and its nascent empire; yet the ILN failed to make any reference to it. Instead, its one report for the final year of the nineteenth century was on the launch of the British-built battleship Asahi which was to play a major role in the Imperial Japanese Navy during the forthcoming Russo-Japanese War (1904-5) - a war which once again was to preoccupy the ILN pages.

Thus, Japan and The Illustrated London News provides readers and researchers for the first time with a 'one-stop' access point to the complete record of reported events relating to Japan in the critical half century following its opening to the West.


Important features:

  • Extensive, authoritative coverage
  • Profusely illustrated throughout
  • All original Japan-related text included
  • Introduced by Terry Bennett
  • Historical Perspective by Hugh Cortazzi
  • Comprehensively indexed by J.E. Hoare
Available directly from Global Oriental.

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