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Jiarui Yu

Journey to Northumbria: Chinese Visit and Elswick Cemetery

Journey to Northumbria: Chinese Visit and Elswick Cemetery in the Department of History


I am a history PhD candidate, researching late modern British and Chinese history. I completed both a BA (2022), and an MA (2023) (with distinction) in History at Durham University. I am also an independent historical novel writer, and a teacher at a local charity school, in addition to conducting history research. 

Current Research

My thesis is a study of the Beiyang Fleet Cemetery in Newcastle (北洋水师墓), located in Newcastle's Elswick Cemetery. It explores the interaction between the Northeast people and Qing Dynasty individuals in late modern Britain and its impact on the military build-up, social tolerance, and political thought of both the Qing and British Empires. During the three official visits of the Beiyang Fleet to Newcastle, in 1881, 1887, and 1911, the crews - comprised of diverse backgrounds such as Confucian scholars, grassroots sailors, naval officers, and the revolutionaries - actively engaged with the Northeast Communities and local county councils. These interactions are carved in the vicissitudes of Elswick Cemetery. My aim is to achieve a comprehensive study of the Beiyang Fleet's visits by incorporating multilateral perspectives, including Chinese, British, and Japanese viewpoints, and to write an account that encompasses more than just human interactions.

My other project is a novel. Based on my historical research. I am doing creative writing about the Cemetery: why Qing sailors came to Victorian Britain to acquire ironclad warships, how they perceived British culture, and what they experienced in the Northeast. I have already completed the first volume of 'Journey to Northumbria' (诺霜行纪), which includes four chapters, and I plan to start the sequel soon.


Presenting " 'The Draft History of Qing' (清史稿 Qingshigao) - A Hybrid of Dynastic and 'Modern' History Writings", in Modernities in a Global Context Workshop, in Center for Comparative Modernities, Durham University, Durham. 26th March 2024.

Research interests

  • Environmental history
  • Western Hubei
  • Animal in forest and mountains
  • Nature philosophy against the state governance in China
  • Beiyang Fleet in Victorian UK