Arthur Ransome Wiki

Li, the Chinese character for the world's most common surname.

Miss Lee is the chief taicoon over the Three Islands in China. She holds the rank of "twenty-two gong taicoon" and maintains the hard-won but long peace among the Three Islands tycoons, in accordance with her late father's wishes.

Early life[]

Miss Lee's father was known as Olo Lee; her mother died when she was a little girl. Lee insisted on an English education for his daughter, sending her to Hong Kong, where she adopted the Western-style name Miss Lee; the name stuck, pronounced "Missee Lee" by her Lee's countryfolk, when she returned for school holidays. Her father encouraged her to sit in council with him, then later sent her to Great Marlow school in England where she gained the Higher Certifcate with Honours and entry to the University of Cambridge. She was half-back in the hockey team, and joined the Girl Guides where she learned Morse code from which she developed the Three Islands system of inter-island signalling by whistling (ML13).

Return and accession[]

But during her first year his father sends a letter with only two words Come Home. So she came home by big steamer to Hong Kong and then a junk to the Three Islands when her father Olo Lee a velly old man. So she stays; he taught me all his business and he says that there was no need for me to go back to Camblidge as she had learned enough. But he was velly ill and at last calls a meeting of the Thlee Island Council where he nominated her as his sucessor, set her in his chair, and had the twenty-two gongs rung for her. They all swore that they would obey me. Her father was dead the next morning, and and was buried on Temple Island (ML13).

Her own Camblidge[]

So in Missee Lee the frustrated Cambridge scholar plans to turn the Swallows, Amazons and Captain Flint into her own class of classical scholars: So I make my Camblidge here .... I have a class of students. Not quite Camblidge. But we will study here. We will study evelly day. We will tlanslate Virgil. We will lead Caesar. So after an examination she made up her mind to do the best she can with her uneven class ... Loger will go to top (ML13). She says In five, ten years pelhaps, no one will guess you only went to Oxford to Captain Flint, who gives Susan a warning kick (ML16).

But after old seaman Wu sees the sextant and Chang sends the money for them from Missee Lee back, she realises that her own Camblidge class is not safe (ML22). So she gives them Shining Moon for then to escape in; Captain Flint agrees not to stop before Singapore (ML23). She decides to accompany them, telling Nancy I am coming with you. Going back to Camblidge. But when she hears Chang proclaiming himself a twenty-two gong Taicoon she accepts the path of duty and leaves the ship, saying that she will not need her books which she has brought with her again, so You will go on with your Latin on the voyage home (ML27).

Dr Lee, MA, LittD etc[]

Miss Lee's inscription in her Virgil text (ML5) expressed her aspirations, not her actual qualifications, since she explained (ML13) that she did not even complete her first year at Cambridge:

... in my velly first year, my father sent me a letter with only two words in it, 'Come home' . So No more Camblidge ... And I should never be able to go on with my examinations and become a Bachelor of Arts.

Incidentally, the Japanese version has Miss Lee's Chinese calligraphy re-done (perhaps by the book's translator by Jingu Teruo?). Perhaps the originals (by Arthur Ransome himself?) were not deemed to be tidy enough.