Farewell to JG Ballard’s home

jgballard_houseOne of the most famous film about Shanghai history is surely Steven Spielberg’s  “Empire of the Sun”, that I wrote about a few years ago . The movie from the 1980’s was the film version of the JG Ballard novel of the same name. Ballard spent his childhood in old Shanghai until the Japanese invasion of the International Settlement, on 8th December 1941. Although most people think that like in the book, he lost his parents in the crowd on the Bund. He did not get separated from them and was interned with them in Lung Hua camp from 1943 (thank you Liliane Willens for information on this point).

Ballard’s life and books have attracted a large crowd of fans who looked for his old house located in Columbia Road (today’s Fanyiu lu). Ballard was a famous British author and died in 2009 (see the Wikipedia article about him). The house was found rediscovered by fans a few years ago and was still in relatively good state after decades of neglect. It was visited by JG Ballard a few years ago and was supposed to be protected. Sadly, this house has been severly damaged recently by the latest occupant. Here is the link to the excellent article from British Daily “The Telegraph”.

Anybody witnessing Shanghai destruction of its architecture heritage should be surprised about, as the same thing is currently happening with most the buildings in the Bund area and many others. I think the saddest part of the article is the interviews in the report. Still, this is a great loss.

4 thoughts on “Farewell to JG Ballard’s home”

  1. The Japanese Imperial army walked into the International Settlement in 1941 on December 8 (dateline – attack on Pearl Harbor). Although “Empire of the Sun” is a novel, readers believe that young Ballard was separated from his parents on that day. In reality he and his parents were interned in Lungha Assembly Centre in 1943 at the time all Allied nationals were interned by the Japanese. Coincidentally young Jamie Ballard used to play with the son of my Australian aunt interned in the same cam,p. See my book “Stateless in Shanghai” where this is mentioned (p.149)

  2. You got me on the date, I always thought it was the 7th. Already changed.
    I like your connection to young Ballard and never knew about Ballard real story in Shanghai. Thank you for your help on this.

  3. Encouraged by your yet another very interesting post, already purchased “Empire of the Sun”. Karolina

  4. Our family home is still there; also on 301 Amherst Road, now Xinhua Road, I believe. In the movie, the Ballard family also lived on Amherst. Our #301 was right at the entrance to the “Columbia Circle” development. It has a new address number now and there’s a wall around the place with a brass plaque telling the story. Way back, there was a garage that fronted on Amherst, but it’s since been closed off. The same two trees are there on the street. They are large now but were mere saplings when the family moved in about 1930. I have a photo of it then and a recent one sent to me by a tourist from Japan. I have never been there.

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