Mao’s Toe: Memoirs of the Life of David Chipp – a serious correspondent

In 2009, Freeman edited the memoirs of David Chipp, which were privately published as a limited edition, under the title, Mao’s Toe.

  • To download the Editor’s Introduction, click here.
  • To obtain a copy of this limited edition, please contact the Development Office at King’s College, Cambridge.

About Mao’s Toe

David Chipp, Mao’s Toe:

“Premier Zhou Enlai apparently told a colleague, ‘We like Mr Chipp. He is very interested in everything about China; he gets a lot wrong; and is always laughing and joking. But he is a very serious correspondent.’ I have ever been paid, and can think of no better epitaph.”

David Chipp’s distinguished career as a reporter culminated in his seventeen years’ service as Editor-in-Chief of the Press Association in Fleet Street. However, he regarded the highpoint of his career – and, indeed, of his life – as the thirty months he spent in Peking as Reuters correspondent, the first non-communist Western correspondent to be granted residency by the Communist Government. During that time, he won the respect of the nation’s leaders, soaked up the culture, partook of self-indulgence, had much fun, and stepped on Chairman Mao’s Toe.

This private edition contains Chipp’s memoirs of life in Peking, together with six essays that he wrote on the history of English journalism, and a miscellany of reflections on some of the diverse aspects of this remarkable and much loved eccentric by a number of contributors, including Lord Black of Brentwood, Monash University’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Edwina Cornish, and television personality Dr Christian Jessen.

David Chipp, Mao’s Toe:

“When noted actor, Ying Ruocheng, came to London for a gala performance, he told a group of my friends, ‘Chipp is an excellent actor. He knows how to project his voice, and was clearly well taught at Cambridge. His drag act on stage in Peking was among the funniest things I have seen at the theatre.’ An exaggeration; but at least my performance went down well. Perhaps it sums up my leisure time in Peking: culture, self-indulgence, and fun.”

Book launch and reviews

Mao’s Toe was launched by the Provost of King’s College, Professor Ross Harrison, at a reception in the Senior Combination Room at King’s College, Cambridge, on 24 October, 2009, following a Memorial Evensong for David Chipp in the Chapel of King’s College.

  • To read a speech delivered at the launch by Marian Ramsay, a senior curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum, who, as a child, attended Chipp’s famous drag act in Peking, click here.
  • To read a report of the event on The Baron, a website about former Reuters personnel, click here.
  • For a book review by Merlin Waterson, a former Director of Historic Properties at the National Trust of England, which was published in The Garrick Club’s magazine, The Garrick, click here.
  • To read Michael Kirby’s impression of the work in his remarks at the end of an interview he gave for The Agitator, click here.

The cost of designing and printing the book was met through the generosity of the Telegraph Group, the Press Association, and Thomson Reuters. This enabled copies to be distributed free of charge. A donation to King’s College, in memory of Chipp, was suggested in lieu of payment. In this way, over £20,000 was raised in his memory for the College, in addition to the £100,000 left to the College under the terms of his will.