Emily Hahn

From Academic Kids

Emily Hahn (January 14, 1905 - February 18, 1997) was an American writer. She was born in St. Louis, Missouri, but moved with her family to Chicago, Illinois when she was young. Even at an early age, Hahn had a rebellious streak for her times, and she resolved to obtain a degree in mining engineering at the University of Wisconsin, even though all of her classmates and instructors were opposed to her being there.

Having graduated in 1926, she returned to St. Lous to work for an engineering firm, then moved to Taos, New Mexico to work as a courier for another. She later moved to New York City, studying at Columbia University. She taught geology for a while, and traveled across the United States in an automobile with a female friend, both disguised as men. Hahn then went to Europe, visiting Florence and London, before moving on to the Belgian Congo to work for the Red Cross, and to Shanghai, where she lived as concubine for a Chinese poet. She became addicted to opium, and had an affair with the head of the British Secret Service in Hong Kong, with whom she bore an illegitimate child.

When the Japanese invaded China, Hahn was forced to remain in Shanghai until she was repatriated in 1943. Upon her return to the United States, began writing travel books and her memoirs. Her first book was Seductio ad Absurdum, an exploration of how men court women. She wrote several pieces for The New Yorker ("Though I had always wanted to be an opium addict," she wrote, "I can't claim that as the reason I went to China.")

Hahn had written many letters to her family during her travels, and the letters were eventually published in a series of books. She also wrote two works on her experiences in Asia: China to Me and Hong Kong Holiday.

Following World War II, she married British soldier-spy Charles Boxer, whom she had met before the war. Boxer had been interned by the Japanese during the war, and the reunion of the two lovers (whose love story had been reported faithfully in Hahn's published letters) made headlines throughout the United States.

After her wedding, Hahn moved with her husband to his family's home in England, where she continued to write -- articles for The New Yorker, biographies of Aphra Behn, James Brooke, Fanny Burney, Chiang Kai-Shek, D.H. Lawrence and Mabel Dodge Luhan -- short fiction -- more travel books -- and, in the 1950s, juvenile works.

Her biography, by Ken Cuthbertson, is called Nobody Said Not to Go : The Life, Loves, and Adventures of Emily Hahn (ISBN 0571199658).


  • Seductio ad Absurdum: The Principles and Practices of Seduction--A Beginner's Handbook (1930)
  • Beginner's Luck (1931)
  • Congo Solo: Misadventures Two Degree North (1933)
  • With Naked Foot (1934)
  • Affair (1935)
  • Steps of the Sun (1940)
  • The Soong Sisters (1941, 1970)
  • Mr. Pan (1942)
  • China to Me: A Partial Autobiography (1944, 1975, 1988)
  • Hong Kong Holiday (1946)
  • China: A to Z (1946)
  • The Picture Story of China (1946)
  • affles of Singapore (1946)
  • Miss Jill (1947) also as House in Shanghai (1958)
  • England to Me (1949)
  • A Degree of Prudery: A Biography of Fanny Burney (1950)
  • Purple Passage: A Novel About a Lady Both Famous and Fantastic (1950) (published in the UK as Aphra Behn (1951))
  • Francie (1951)
  • Love Conquers Nothing: A Glandular History of Civilization (1952)
  • Francie Again (1953)
  • Mary, Queen of Scots (1953)
  • James Brooke of Sarawak: A Biography of Sir James Brooke (1953)
  • Meet the British (with Charles Roetter and Harford Thomas) (1953)
  • The First Book of India (1955)
  • Chiang Kai-shek: An Unauthorized Biography (1955)
  • Francie Comes Home (1956)
  • Spousery (1956)
  • Diamond: The Spectacular Story of the Earth's Greatest Treasure and Man's Greatest Greed (1956)
  • Leonardo da Vinci (1956)
  • Kissing Cousins (1958)
  • The Tiger House Party: The Last Days of the Maharajas (1959)
  • Aboab: First Rabbi of the Americas (1959)
  • Around the World With Nellie Bly (1959)
  • June Finds a Way (1960)
  • China Only Yesterday, 1850-1950: A Century of Change (1963)
  • Indo (1963)
  • Africa to Me (1964)
  • Romantic Rebels: An Informal History of Bohemianism in America (1967)
  • Animal Gardens (1967)
  • The Cooking of China (1968)
  • Recipes: Chinese Cooking (1968)
  • Times and Places (1970, reissued as No Hurry to Get Home 2000)
  • Breath of God: A Book About Angels, Demons, Familiars, Elementals and Spirits (1971)
  • Fractured Emerald: Ireland (1971)
  • On the Side of the Apes: A New look at the Primates, the Men Who Study Them and What They Have Learned (1971)
  • Once Upon A Pedestal (1974)
  • Lorenzo: D.H. Lawrence and the Women Who Loved Him (1975)
  • Mabel: A Biography of Mabel Dodge Luhan (1977)
  • Look Who's Talking! New Discoveries in Animal Communications (1978)
  • Love of Gold (1980)
  • The Islands: America's Imperial Adventures in the Philippines (1981)
  • Eve and the Apes (1988)

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