William Alexander

William Alexander. The costume of China. London, 1805.

William Alexander. The costume of China. London, 1805.

Artist William Alexander (1767–1816) was the junior draughtsman in Lord Macartney's embassy to China in 1792–4. His drawings of the expedition were engraved for the official record and provided a source of inspiration for Alexander's exhibiting and publishing career.

He was much admired for his scenes of daily-life in China  in a period in which the Chinese style greatly influenced the decorative arts in Britain. The publisher of the present work Publisher William Richard Beckford Miller (1769–1844) made his fortune by producing a series of publications illustrating the manners, customs and costumes of various countries, with descriptions in English and French. Miller turned down the chance to publish Lord Byron's immensely  popular epic poem "Childe Harold".

This decision was supposedly taken because the poem attacked Miller's patron, Lord Elgin, as a "plunderer." A forgiving Lord Byron wrote to William Miller saying that he could "perfectly conceive, and indeed approve your reasons." Miller published the first translation into English of the Itinerary of Archbishop Baldwin Through Wales A D 1188 By Gerald of Wales , a description of the tour taken by these two clerics  to recruit Welshmen to join the Crusades.