Achuen “Grace” Amoy Eaton (1846-1922): Mui Tsai, Acrobat, Missionary, Writer, by Mary Chapman

Fig. 1 Achuen Amoy in her teens (Salter 170).

Achuen “Grace” Amoy Eaton was born in China, probably Shanghai, soon after the Treaty of Nanking (around 1846) gave European and North American merchants and missionaries access to key Chinese ports. Her parents, possibly because of extreme poverty caused by drought or war, sold her at a young age to Nanjing-based Tuck Quy and his wife Wang Noo, who led a group of Chinese jugglers and acrobats that toured the world billed as the “Chinese Magicians”. The name “Achuen Amoy” was probably given to her by her owners because “Amoy,” a corruption of “mui tsai” meaning “little sister”, was a common euphemism for “slave girl” and “Achuen” could mean Spring, to indicate that she was born or purchased in the Spring.

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