The Ghost of Namamugi: Charles Lenox Richardson and the Anglo-Satsuma War
In 1862, a young British merchant was killed by samurai, in uncertain circumstances, at Namamugi – a quiet village near Yokohama, Japan. One year later, a British fleet bombarded the port of Kagoshima to extract reparations, reducing much of this south-western city to ash.
The Ghost of Namamugi is a captivating re-telling of this story, locating it firmly within the wider context of British imperial expansion in East Asia. Dr Fletcher explains how it was that the death of one man led to the partial destruction of a city, and approaches this murder as a window onto the makings and dynamics of a mid-nineteenth century ‘outrage’. The book explores how competing images of the dead of Namamugi, Charles Lenox Richardson – to some a martyr in the cause of free trade, to others the embodiment of a bullying merchant class – have served to justify and to lament Britain’s bombardment ever since.
Making use of newly discovered sources, The Ghost of Namamugi also presents, for the first time and in full, Richardson’s personal correspondence home. Written across ten years spent living and trading at Shanghai, the Richardson letters to give readers a chance to form their own judgement of the man at the centre of an international incident. Together, the book offers new perspectives on the thoughts, experiences and travails of a determined young merchant of the treaty port world, at a critical moment in the history of imperial expansion and conflict in Asia.
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