Cable, Mildred & Francesca French

The Gobi Desert

  • First edition, first printing of this important work on the cultures and landscape of the Gobi desert by pioneering missionary Mildred Cable. A beautiful copy.

    Cable journeyed to China in 1901, working and travelling with the missionary sisters Evangeline and Francesca French. “Cable was committed to the idea of an indigenous church, and sought to involve Chinese Christians in all areas of their mission. She believed that their work in Huozhou could be self-sustaining and that her skills might be more usefully exploited in areas still relatively untouched by the protestant missionary movement. It was with this intention that she gained permission to initiate a mission in north-west China. The Trio left Shanxi in June 1923 and arrived in Jiuquan in Gansu province in late 1924. After establishing a base and native church at Jiuquan they devoted the next thirteen years to travelling, by mule cart, across the trade routes of the Gobi Desert, 'gossiping the Gospel', as Cable described their method of proselytizing; leaving biblical tracts in hostelries, visiting country fairs, and disseminating their Christian message on a personal level by befriending local people” (ODNB).

    “It is for the Trio's work in this part of central Asia that they were to become widely known in missionary circles and also to the British public. While their numerous journeys across the Gobi Desert were motivated by their evangelical calling, the hardships and frequent dangers endured made them pioneer women travellers and explorers of this region, and they were the first British women to visit the city of Urumchi. Their work was frequently obstructed by growing political disturbance, and Cable's medical skills, which saved the life of Muslim warlord Ma Zhangying, proved a valuable passport to their own survival. She was recognized as a leading authority on the Gobi Desert, and her most famous book, of eponymous title, was published in 1942. It was in recognition of that expertise that she was awarded the Lawrence memorial medal by the Royal Central Asian Society in 1942, and, with the French sisters, the Livingstone memorial medal of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society in 1943” (ODNB).

  • London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1942.

    Octavo. Original blue cloth, titles to spine gilt. With the dust jacket. Colour frontispiece and 2 plates, 48 black and white plates, 1 map within the text, folding map at rear. Ownership signature to the front free endpaper. Spine rolled, very lightly rubbed at the extremities, but overall the cloth and contents very fresh. An excellent copy in the bright jacket that is lightly rubbed at the extremities and on the lower panel, with a few nicks.


Collections: Women's History




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