Blades of Grass
About the Book
George Aylwin Hogg was a man of remarkable dedication and honour. Though he died in 1945 at the age of thirty, Aylwin’s name and legacy is remembered in China to this day—where as a wise and noble friend to the people of China, he immersed himself in the culture and life of the Chinese people whom he served in his mission. In Blades of Grass: The Story of George Aylwin Hogg, author and nephew of the late Mr Hogg, Mark Aylwin Thomas, explores his uncle’s own letters and writings and shares this astonishing life story of perseverance, service, and dedication. Thomas offers a personal and compelling window into the character of this remarkable man, and Hogg’s own words lend an authentic and distinctive insight into his service—training young Chinese men in their vocations in the remote confines of Northern China in Shandan. George Aylwin Hogg was part of a vision to create a unique form of industrial training on which to base the reconstruction of industry for a new post-war China. While a vignette of Aylwin’s life was portrayed in Roger Spottiswoode’s 2008 film, The Children of Huang Shi, the full picture of this remarkable life—often painted with Aylwin’s own words—shows how this young Englishman’s life was deeply interwoven in the lives of the men and people he served.
About the Author
“My son did not die on July 22nd, 1945,” his mother once wrote. “He just passed through the doorway of death to a life of further possibilities.” George Aylwin was born on 26 February 1915, to Kathleen and Robert Hogg at Red Gables on Leyton Road in Harpenden, Hertfordshire. Robert Hogg was a successful merchant tailor in business with his brother in Hanover Square, London, and Aylwin was the youngest of a family of six children. The first memories are of an aureole of curls like a pale gold cloud about Aylwin’s head; he loved to put on his brother’s cricket cap and black school waistcoat, which looked ridiculously incongruous on him. He repudiated the idea of death at the age of four. He had been distributing drawings with great pride, and one of his brothers, to tease, said, “I suppose when you’re dead you’ll want us to frame them and stick them on the wall?” To which Aylwin replied in astonishment, “I shall never die, Stephen! When my body gets old and worn out, I shall go to God’s land. He’ll have the window open. He’ll be all ready, and He’ll pop me into a new body.” Another time he was overheard saying to his sister, “If heaven isn’t much nicer than earth, Rosemary, I shall ask God to let me come back.”