Biographies of Prominent Personalities in Nanyang (南洋名人集传)



但期得取鼓励激发之效果 ~ 林博爱


南洋名人集传 or Biographies of Prominent Personalities in Nanyang records the stories of 3,045 prominent Chinese in Southeast Asia, including Goh Say Eng (吴世荣), Cheong Fatt Tze (张弼士) and Aw Boon-Haw (胡文虎). Most of these Chinese living in Malaya and Singapore in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were notable for their righteous characters and life contributions.

There are five volumes in the biography series. The first volume was published in 1922 in Penang. The chief editor, Lin Bo-Ai (林博爱), was an advocate of Sun Yat Sen’s revolutionary beliefs. In the prologue, he described the book’s aims “to glorify kind deeds, recognise talents, in order to inspire and encourage (fellow Nanyang Chinese to build a strong foundation for the country).”

Image of book content

Besides him, there were a number of editorial committee members who assisted Lin in the editing works. There was no uniform editorial standard and the level of detail varies in each biography. However, in terms of the number of biographies, this biography series is the most complete. It is a useful introductory reference book for researchers who want to know the basic biodata of Chinese personalities in Southeast Asia. It is also a well referenced piece among historians researching about Nanyang Chinese.

Digitised version of the book is available at Digital Gems.


All images of the book are taken from 南洋名人集传.

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