Press Releases 2014-2015

Swansea Exhibition for Rare Collection of Books About China


Ymwelwyr i Abertawe yn mwynhau'r Arddangosfa Thomas PhillipsA rare collection of books about China has left the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) in Lampeter for the first time in 200 years and is now on public display at UWTSD in Swansea.

The Confucius Institute at UWTSD is hosting a public exhibition of the rare books donated to one of the University’s predecessor institutions, Saint David’s College, by one of Wales’s earliest travellers to the Far East. The exhibition, entitled ‘Thomas Phillips: Bringing China to Wales’ is on show in the Reading Room at UWTSD’s ALEX Design Exchange (Alexandra Road, Swansea) from Friday 15th to Thursday 28th May. Admission is free of charge.

The exhibition brings to light the historic link between China and Wales that goes back nearly two centuries. It is the first time these valuable books have left UWTSD’s Roderic Bowen Library and Archive since they first arrived in Lampeter in the early 19th century.

International entrepreneur and philanthropist Thomas Phillips travelled to China in 1796 and, following his retirement from the East India Company, made his first donation of books to the college in 1827. The selection of books on display covers Chinese history, philosophy, its people and customs. It forms just one small part of a broad-ranging collection of some 27,000 books donated by Phillips, not only on China but many other countries and topics. What is extraordinary about the collection is that it suggests that even in Thomas Phillips’ time, it was important for young people at university to be aware of Chinese language and culture if they were to go on to do commerce with China, and become successful international entrepreneurs just like Phillips.

Krystyna Krajewska, Executive Director of the Confucius Institute said:

“The books selected for the exhibition reflect Phillips' broad interest in Chinese culture -its geography, language, music, architecture and history. The importance of the exhibition for us today, is that it illustrates how Wales has for nearly two centuries forged links with China, which are just as important for education and business now as they were in Phillips' time. The donation of books by Phillips formed the first, earliest library on China in Wales, and today we still have the largest collection of books on China in Wales.”

Among the books in the exhibition is the beautifully illustrated Journal written by Lord Macartney during the first British Embassy mission to China in 1793. There is also the 17th century translation into Latin by Matteo Ricci of important Confucian texts (The Great Teaching, The Doctrine of the Mean and The Analects), together with a biography of the great sage.

The exhibition finishes on 28th May with a talk by John Morgan-Guy and Peter Hopkins entitled, ‘From global to local: the life and vision of Thomas Phillips’. It takes place at 4pm in the Reading Room at UWTSD’s ALEX Design Exchange. Places for the talk can be booked via email

Note to Editor

For more information about the Thomas Phillips Exhibition please visit

The Confucius Institute at UWTSD provides Chinese language and culture courses in schools and colleges throughout south and mid Wales, and hosts Chinese cultural events in order to promote a better understanding of China and its people.

Further Information

Steven Stokes
Principal Corporate Communications and PR Officer
07872 423788