THE north Oxford home where a Chinese writer sought refuge from the Blitz has become the latest to be honoured with a blue plaque.

In 1940 Chiang Yee walked up and down Southmoor Road, Jericho, in search of a temporary haven after his London flat was bombed out.

He was taken in by Henry and Violet Keene at number 28 and ended up staying for 15 years, writing an Oxford edition of his The Silent Traveller series which featured paintings and poems about his adopted city.

Oxford Mail:

The plaque was unveiled at a ceremony on Saturday afternoon by Chiang Yee’s biographer Professor Da Zheng of Suffolk University, Boston United States, and Rita Keene Lester, whose parents took him in all those years ago.

The day was also marked with a special event at the Ashmolean museum, organised by Dr Anne Witchard, of the University of Westminster.

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Eda Forbes, secretary to Oxfordshire’s blue plaques board said: “The house where this plaque is placed can tell a remarkable story.

“In 1940, with the start of the Blitz, Chiang Yee was bombed out of his flat in London and decided to seek refuge in Oxford.

“He went along Southmoor Road, knocking on doors on the chance of a temporary haven.

“At number 28 a very kind couple Henry and Violet Keene took him in.

“His lodgings proved so congenial that the house remained his home base from which he set out on his travels until 1955.

“He had two rooms and read, wrote and painted in his study facing the street.

“He was considered part of the family, sometimes sharing meals and outings.

“Their little daughter Rita thought of him as an uncle.”

In 1903, Chiang Yee was born in the city of Jiujiang on the Yangtze River at the foot of the Lu Mountain, the son of Chiang Ho-an, an artist.

He took a Chemistry degree and worked variously as a teacher, journalist and magistrate in a time of great unrest, invasion and political upheaval in China.

He came to Britain in 1933 despite at first speaking virtually no English.

He soon found employment teaching Chinese at the School of Oriental Studies in London and was able to devote much of his time to writing and painting.

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There was a great reawakening of interest in China in the thirties and Chiang Yee soon became a well known and sought after figure in literary and cultural circles.

In 1955 after living for fifteen years in Oxford he accepted an appointment as Professor of Chinese at Columbia University and settled in the United States.

In 1975 he was able to return to China for the first time and on a second visit, in failing health, he died there on October 17, 1977, at the foot of Lu Mountain where he had been born.

In The Silent Traveller in Oxford, Mr Yee observed the beauty of the city through words and paintings, seeing everything with a fresh Chinese eye and often gentle irony.

It was one of 13 books in the series which also included Lakeland, the Yorkshire Dales, London, Edinburgh and Paris.