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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

Author Der Ling, Princess, 1886-1944
Title Two Years in the Forbidden City
Language English
LoC Class DS: History: General and Eastern Hemisphere: Asia
Subject Cixi, Empress dowager of China, 1835-1908 -- Anecdotes
Subject Empresses -- China -- Anecdotes
Subject China -- Court and courtiers -- Anecdote...more

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 cour...more

A wonderful reading of this fascinating story. Princess Der Ling tells of two years of her life with the Dowager Empress. She became court interpreter, thanks to her education in France and England, and tried delicately to influence the Empress and to push her to make reforms.

Often what was not s...more

Der Ling is a controversal figure. She was a lady in waiting for the last Dowenger Empress of China before she left the service to marry an American. After her marriage, she capitalized on her "princess" title (there is some dispute over this; the title is an honorific only within the Imperial co...more

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...more

The amazing story of a young Chinese girl raised in Paris then her account of two years living with the Princess Dowager. An awesome insight to court life in China. Having been to many of the places mentioned in the novel, it was really cool to imagine what they would've been like back when they...more

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...more

No wonder the bloody peasants revolted.

“Is there a king in England? I had thought that our Empress Dowager was Queen of the world.”

So says one of the court ladies to the author.

It’s a fun book, but through all the considerable effort of the author shines the plain fact that Cixi was horrible and terrifying to be around. The power of h...more

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