|The True Story of the Empress DowagerDer Ling
Der Ling became the First lady-in-waiting to Empress Dowager Cixi, as well as a translator, and was highly trusted by the Empress-Dowager to share many memories and opinions with her. In this fascinating story, Der Ling reveals the history and true story behind the character of the Empress-Dowager Cixi – not the monster of depravity depicted in the popular press. but an aging woman who loved beautiful things and had many regrets about the past. Originally published as “Old Buddha” this thoughtful and well written account reveals the tragic story of the end of the Qing Dynasty, compassionately and truthful told through the articulate writing of a trusted friend.
“Princess” Der Ling (1885– 1944) was a Hanjun bannerwoman, the daughter Yù Geng. Her father was a member of the Hanjun Plain White Banner Corps. She received a western education, learning French and English, and studying dance in Paris with Isadora Duncan. Upon her return to China, Der Ling became the First lady-in-waiting to the Empress Dowager Cixi, as well as interpreting for her when she received foreign visitors. Der Ling stayed at court until March 1905. Der Ling wrote of her experiences in court in her memoir Two Years in the Forbidden City, which was published in 1911. Der Ling provided unique insights into life at the Manchu court and the character of the Empress Dowager Empress, a world that ended abruptly with the 1911 revolution that overthrew the Manchu or Qing dynasty. Der Ling continued to write and published seven more books. Princess Der Ling, a.k.a. Mrs. Thaddeus C. White, died in Berkeley, California, as a result of being struck by a car while crossing an intersection. She had recently taught Chinese at UC-Berkeley. Other books by Der Ling: Two Years in the Forbidden City