Days Gone by: Growing Up in Penang by Christine Wu Ramsay
Growing up in a house full of amahs, Christine Wu Ramsay describes her childhood in the Straits Settlement of Penang, beginning with how her great-grandfather became a mining magnate and Vice Consul of China. Using over a hundred photographs from her family album, she portrays a way of life and philosophy where the practice of polygamy and the ownership of bondmaids were accepted facets of life.
Table of Contents
The Beginning, Kong Tai Partial Family Tree
The Second and Third Generations
Penang during the Japanese Occupation, 1942-1945
Life back at Farquhar Street
Ah Kong and Por Por
Holidays and Festivals
From Farquhar Street to Codrington Avenue
A Period of Change
Secondary School and Farewell Penang
“With her lively anecdotal style Christine Wu Ramsay has provided a sympathetic and informative first-hand perspective on the lives led by the Chinese elite … Her story enriches our understanding of this by-gone era.” Leslie A.K. James
“…a riveting read for those who love to take a voyeuristic peek into the past.” Choong Kwee Kim, The Star
About the Author
Christine Wu Ramsay grew up in the British Straits Settlement of Penang, part of present-day Malaysia. Her account begins with the arrival of her great-grandfather, Leong Fee – a poor Hakka migrant from China who rose to become the owner of the famous ‘Tambun Mines’ in Perak and a Vice-Consul of China in Penang. Brought up by her grandparents and cared for by black-and-white amahs, Christine enjoyed an idyllic childhood – affected but not marred by the Japanese Occupation and declining family fortunes – up till her departure for Australia in 1957. She graduated from and undertook research in organic chemistry at Adelaide and Melbourne Universities, the Chester Beatty Research Institute in London and Brandies University in Massachusetts in the 1960s. She established Raya Gallery, the first gallery in Melbourne to specialise in contemporary South East Asian art, in the 1970s. From the 1990s to the present, she has been an exhibiting photographer.