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Two Years in the Forbidden City

Princess Der Ling

Book Overview: 

The author of the following narrative has peculiar qualifications for her task. She is a daughter of Lord Yu Keng, a member of the Manchu White Banner Corps, and one of the most advanced and progressive Chinese officials of his generation. she became First Lady-in-Waiting to the Empress Dowager, and while serving at the Court in that capacity she received the impressions which provide the subject-matter of this book. Her opportunity to observe and estimate the characteristics of the remarkable woman who ruled China for so long was unique, and her narrative throws a new light on one of the most extraordinary personalities of modern times. Yielding to the urgent solicitation of friends, she consented to put some of her experiences into literary form, and the following chronicle, in which the most famous of Chinese women, the customs and atmosphere of her Court are portrayed by an intimate of the same race, is a result.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .must be some jealousy among them and decided that I was well able to find my own way, as I knew Her Majesty liked me and would help me out.

Her Majesty walked along a little way, then laughed and said to me: "Don't I look more comfortable now? I am going for a long walk and take lunch on the top of the hill. There is a nice place up there and I am sure you will like it. Come, let us go."

The Emperor had gone back to his own Palace, and the head eunuch had also disappeared. As we were walking along, Her Majesty was talking and smiling as if she had never a care or trouble in the world, or any important questions of state to settle. I thought from what I had seen so far that she had a very sweet disposition. She looked back and said: "Just see how many people are following us." I turned and saw the same crowd that had accompanied Her Majesty earlier in the day to the Audience Hall.

After passing out of the large courtyard on the West side, . . . Read More

Community Reviews

A fascinating record of a vanished world replete with details that are made even more poignant by its imminent passing: the elaborate meals, the hand-embroidered imperial gowns, the oft-flogged eunuchs who were both lackeys and powers behind the throne, the dizziness-inducing kowtows, formal court c

I first heard about Der Ling when a friend mentioned that there was a Manchu “princess” who spoke English, Chinese/Manchu, and French. She was given the title “Princess” when she served as Lady-in-Waiting to Empress Dowager Cixi, and she also lived overseas for a significant period of time before an

Published in 1911, 'Two Years in the Forbidden City' is the memoire of Der Ling, daughter of a prominent Manchu official, concerning her two years in the service of the cunning, conservative and rather narcissistic Dowager Empress Cixi from 1903 to 1905.

It is primarily valuable for its fascinating a

The most riveting authentic story I have ever read of, which brings us readers back to the immediate commencement of the nineteenth century, intersected with some historic issues of first-rate importance such as the Boxer Movement, things about Kang Yu Wei and Yuan Shih Kai and a lot of traditional

The Dowager Empress Ci-Xi has proved to be a mysterious, yet infamous woman. Much has been written of her, portraying her as a ruthless & corrupt woman who had family members, including 2 emperors, her son & her nephew, murdered. However, in 1903, the western educated Lady Yu Derling, the daughter o

I loved this book. It is an intimate view into the life of Chinese noblewomen at a unique point in history. It was interesting and exciting to go through. While some points may be tedious to some readers, I found the attention to detail and minutia of court life to be fascinating. It was a highly pl

No wonder the bloody peasants revolted.

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