HKUL Centenary Book Talk Series

Reading Club - Banner

HKUL Centenary Book Talk Series

Through Boxer Rebellion, Plague and Revolution – 45 years of an Irish missionary in Manchuria

Theme Book:

Frederick--The Life of My Missionary Grandfather in Manchuria


Mr Mark O'Neill (Author & Journalist)


Professor Ying Chan, Director, The Journalism and Media Studies Centre, HKU

Date :

22 October 2012 (Monday)

Time :

7:15 - 9:00 pm

Venue :

Multi-purpose Area, Level 3, Main Library, The University of Hong Kong

Language :





About the Talk

Book cover of Frederick--The Life of My Missionary Grandfather in Manchuria

Frederick O’Neill lived for 45 years in Faku, a small town in Manchuria. From his arrival in 1897 until his expulsion by the Japanese army, he witnessed and reported the extraordinary events that convulsed China – the Boxer Rebellion, the Great Manchurian Plague, the overthrow of the dynasty and the Japanese invasion of Manchuria. He also served with the China Labour Corps in France in World War One.


 In Mark O' Neill's book Frederick--The Life of My Missionary Grandfather in Manchuria, the story is told through Frederick’s own words – vivid, analytical and self-critical – and those of the other missionaries who built schools, hospitals and communities as well as churches. It includes the moving diary of a lady doctor who built a hospital in the small town and died aged 37, from a disease contracted from a patient. A missionary interned in Nagasaki describes the day the atomic bomb fell on the city.


 After the missionaries left in 1949, they feared the church would not survive. Instead, it has recovered, miraculously, from closure and persecution to become the fastest-growing Protestant Christian community in the world. By some estimates, it has 70-80 million members.


 Most of this material in the book has never been published before. It includes rare photographs that capture the life and hardship of one of the most remote corners of China. Much of the material comes from the archives of the Presbyterian Church, whose monthly Missionary Herald provides a clear and detailed record of the mission in Manchuria.


 Mark will describe the life of Frederick O’Neill, his grandfather, why he went to China, what he did there and why he wrote his biography.



About the Speaker

Photo of Mark O' Neill

Born in UK in 1950 and educated at New College Oxford University, Mark O' Neill has worked as a journalist since 1972. Since 1978, he has been based in Asia, working in China, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan and India, for Reuters news agency, the South China Morning Post and many others. His earlier book was on the Taiwan Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation.