Sui Sin Far was born in England in 1865 as Edith Maude Eaton. She was the eldest of fourteen children born to an English shipping merchant, Edward Eaton, and Grace Trefusis Eaton, a Chinese woman whom Edward met on his frequent business trips to Shanghai. Proud of her Chinese heritage, Far’s mother often went by the name Lotus Blossom. Far’s father had studied art in France, and her mother was an orphan raised by Christian missionaries in China. The Eaton family lived primarily in England and Canada, where Far went to school. Even though her given name was British, and her appearance was not markedly Chinese, Far she proudly claimed her Chinese identity. She recounts the painful anxiety of being a Eurasian in her 1909 autobiographical sketch, Leaves from the Mental Portfolio of an Eurasian, first published in the New York newspaper The Independent :
The question of nationality perplexes my little [childhood] brain. Why are we what we are? I and my brothers and sisters? Why did God make us to be hooted and stared at? Papa is English, Mamma is Chinese. Why couldn’t we have been either one thing or the other? Why is my mother’s race despised. I look into the faces of my father and mother. Is she not every bit as dear and good as he? Why? Why? . . . I do not confide in my father and mother. They would not understand. How could they? He is English, she is Chinese. I am different to both of them—a stranger, tho their own...
(The entire section is 854 words.)
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