Canton Elegy: A Father's Letter of Sacrifice, Survival and Love

Author(s): Stephen Jin-Nom Lee

Biography & Memoir

"The story you are about to read will have to make do for the conversations we never had." Set against the backdrop of the events that shaped China in the twentieth century - the Chinese Civil War, the Second World War, the Cultural Revolution - Canton Elegy is a love story, an adventure story and an intimate portrait of a family bound together by devotion as they struggle to survive. With his wife Belle and their four young children, Stephen Jin-Nom Lee braves famine and flood, corruption and the devastation of war, to make a home and a life for the ones he holds dear. From the 300-mile journey Belle undertakes on foot when she and the children are trapped behind enemy lines in Hong Kong, to the night when he stands at his window watching Canton burn, Stephen observes his world with an artist's sensibility and tells the family's story with great tenderness - all so that his children may understand their history and remember their father's love. Looking across the years towards a time when he himself will be gone and their own lives may be drawing to a close, he puts his desire simply and powerfully: "I want my heart to have a voice so I can love you louder."


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Stephen Jin-Nom Lee was born in 1902. When he was eight years old he was sent to live in America by his grandfather. Lee remained there until after he had graduated with a degree in economics from the University of California at Berkeley. Unable to secure employment due to racism in the 1920s, he returned to China. Lee's accountancy skills led him to become the comptroller of the Chinese Air Force with the rank of full colonel. Leaving the military, Lee became a banker and then a professor teaching finance. He returned to California in 1956. He died in 1970, leaving behind the Canton Elegy manuscript. Co-author Howard Webster is a published photographer, writer and film director. He spent the early years of his life living between Nigeria and England. He graduated from Durham University and lives in London. He is married to Stephen Jin-Nom Lee's granddaughter Julianne Lee and is the father of twins, Alexandra and Frederick.

General Fields

  • : 9781780285733
  • : Watkins Publishing
  • : Watkins Publishing
  • : September 2013
  • : 216mm X 135mm
  • : United Kingdom
  • : October 2013
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : 280
  • : Hardback
  • : Stephen Jin-Nom Lee