The Legacy of Henry Noyes and China Books & Periodicals

The Legacy of Henry Noyes and China Books & Periodicals

Henry Noyes, founder of China Books & Periodicals, Inc. was born on November 5, 1910, in Canton, China, where his Presbyterian-missionary father was the principal of the Pui Ying Middle School. He left China in 1919, moving with his family to Auburn, New York, and then to Toronto, Canada.

He received his BA degree in Modern Languages from University College of the University of Toronto, and later (1936) his MA degree from the same university. He then attended the University of London in England where he received a PhD in English in 1938. 

He returned to Canada that same year to teach first at the University of Toronto, and then at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg. From 1940 to 1945 he headed the Creative Writing Department at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri, and from 1945 to 1959 he was involved in adult education in Chicago, where he also engaged in free-lance writing. He is the author of Hand Over Fist, a novel about life in Chicago, and many articles and poems. He is also the editor of the English Heritage, a two-volume anthology of English literature from Beowulf to T.S. Eliot. 

Mr. Noyes founded China Books & Periodicals, Inc. in 1960 in Chicago. He moved the company to San Francisco in 1963 and opened an East Coast Center in New York in 1971, and a Midwest Center in Chicago in 1972. In 1975, and again in 1976. he travelled to China to meet with publishers and book distributors there. In 1984, he represented China Books & Periodicals, Inc., at the 35th Anniversary Celebrations of the China International Book Trading Corporation in Beijing, China. This organization invited him to give a major speech at their reception in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.



1866    Varnum Noyes and family traveled 109 days by sailing ship from New York to China. He opened a school for boys and his sister, Harriet, opened the first academic school for girls in South China. Both schools still exist.

1877    Varnum's son, William Dean Noyes, grows up in China and a grandson, Henry Halsey Noyes, is born there in 1910.

1919    Henry's doctorate degree in Literature and interest in China prompt him to open China Books in Chicago. China Books was the only business in the United States, besides RCA Telegraph, that was allowed by both China and the U.S. to conduct business during the period that the People's Republic of China was closed to trade, until 1971.

Mail Order program started.

1963    Establish China Books headquarters in San Francisco. Magazine Subscriptions program started.

1966    Only official version of Quotations of Chairman Mao Tsetung distributed by China Books sells over one million copies.

1971    Varnum's great-grandson, Chris Noyes, is the first American business man to be invited by China to go to the Canton Trade Fair. 

Open a China Books Regional Center in New York.

FILM  NBC-TV uses Chris' films of China on nationwide U.S. news broadcast.

1972    Reopen a China Books Regional Center in Chicago. 

President Nixon goes to China and officially opens U.S. Trade Relations with China.

1973    Chris Noyes travels in China when China celebrates admission into the United Nations. 

1975    China Books is among the first to sponsor a tour to China and has continued to send tours. 

1981    Henry Noyes retires and Chris Noyes becomes President of China Books. 

Two Chinese come from China for one year to learn the book business under the guidance of China Books.

Business reaches to 10,000 combined outlets of book stores, major libraries and universities throughout the United States.

1982    China Books publishes Chinese Papercuts by Florence Temko, covering history, current display uses and methods of creating papercuts.

China Books publishes Awards-winning Milton and Matilda by Nancy Besst, based on facts of 1976 official gift to China of 2 musk oxen in exchange for the Pandas.

Renmin Ribao (People's Daily Newspaper) printed and distributed by China Books opens tour at Berkshire Museum, Pittsfield, MA.

1983    China Books sends one editor to help Chinese publishers with editing of books for one year. 

China Books sends one graphics person to help publishers for 2 weeks in China with designs for books and magazines.

1984    Chris Noyes receives award from San Francisco Chamber of Commerce for exemplary accomplishments.

Publish book on the United States as seen through the eye of a visiting Chinese journalist, Liu Zongren's Two Years in the Melting Pot.

Publishers China's Great Puppet Tradition by Roberta Stalberg.

Sponsor tour with Pearl Cruises of Scandinavia, our author Roberta Stalberg lecturing on board. 

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