trains-worldexpresses comSince last week,I have been examining the old sea routes from India to China that must been have been undertaken by sailing vessels and steamers since 1880s onward.The Shanghai Sikh policemen would have to take the train journey from their native village or city in Punjab to Calcutta or Bombay ,as these were the two important ports where shipping companies offered Indo-China voyages.

Interestingly,  P&O,British Shipping company was one such establishment whose passenger & cargo steamers sometimes sailed from Bombay/Calcutta to Hong Kong and then to Shanghai via Singapore,servicing the Indo-China route.The maritime company’s employee,one D’Oliver Leonard and captain of S.S. Kutsang often navigated the Indo-China waters and in his spare time wrote books under the pseudonym ‘Dolly.’

‘China Coasters’  on, though has been credited to one Mrs. Vernon F. Creighton. But, a search on the topic quickly unveils ‘Dolly’ as D’Oliver Leonard.  China Coasters,published by Kelly & Walsh, 1903, was not his first book.’Tales of Hong Kong’,a scarce edition also bore his penmanship.

China Coasters, we learn is a term used for many things:the steamers that ran up and down the China coast, the sailors on these steamers:the officers, engineers and the Captain and the fanciful and humorous yarns told by them, which forms the basis for this book.

It would be truly ground breaking if any of these ‘China’ based commentaries actually deigned to depict other communities like the Parsees or Sikhs. Not holding my breath on it though.

Other books authored by ‘Dolly’ include:

Tales of Hong Kong in Verse and Story, 1891. In 1902, published as Hong Kong in Verse and Story. Hong Kong: Kelly & Walsh, 1902.  

Paul the Pretender: A Romance of Hong Kong. Shanghai: Shanghai Times, 1912. A novel. 

The Vampire Nemesis and Other Weird Stories of the China Coast was published but in Bristol by J. W. Arrowsmith in 1905.