The Empress and Mrs. Conger: The Uncommon Friendship of Two Women and Two Worlds
Victoria BC, UVic
In winter 1902 in the ruins of post-Boxer Uprising Beijing, two women from two different worlds joined hands, and made history- the former concubine and legendary tyrant Empress Dowager Cixi, and the Midwestborn, devoutly Christian Sarah Pike Conger.
Middle-aged Iowan Sarah Pike Conger came to China in 1898 knowing nothing of its people or its culture, its temples or its halls of power. Yet she left seven years later one of China's most sympathetic defenders, bringing to its women and its most famous woman, the Empress Dowager Cixi, forbidden foreign aspirations toward education, autonomy and international sisterhood.
Using unpublished letters, diaries and photographs, and benefiting from the cooperation and assistance of relatives of Sarah Conger and the Empress Dowager, The Empress and Mrs. Conger recreates a world of the past while celebrating a friendship between East and West for the present and future to aspire to.
Grant Hayter-Menzies is the author of Imperial Masquerade: The Legend of Princess Der Ling, as well as the first biographies of stage and screen stars Charlotte Greenwood and Billie Burke. He lives in Sidney, British Columbia, where he is working on the first biography Lillian Carter, mother of President Jimmy Carter.