Following the death of Isabel Crook, veteran communist and staunch friend of China, in Beijing, on August 20, we received the following message from Michael Sheringham.
Michael’s family founded the famous Arthur Probsthain bookshop, which has stood as a family owned and run business specialising in books on Asia, the Middle East and Africa, on London’s Great Russell Street, directly opposite the British Museum, since 1903. He and all his family have been constant and good friends of China.
Michael wrote in part:
“I have seen the obituary for Isabel Crook which you wrote for Friends of Socialist China, which I thought is very good and comprehensive. She did indeed have a remarkably long and full life dedicated to the cause and love of China, where she spent most of her life, with David and her three sons.
“While sad to learn of her passing away, I am gratified to have known her and David and the ‘boys’ since I started living in Beijing in 1972 – or rather since Isabel and David were freed from captivity in early 1973. I, with all the other foreign residents, attended the speech by Premier Zhou Enlai in the Great Hall of the People on March 8th, 1973, when he announced that those foreign friends who had been imprisoned during the Cultural Revolution were all (except Sidney Rittenberg at that time) exonerated and rehabilitated.
“I cherish the times we were able to see Isabel (and David), both in Beijing and London, and we met on many occasions during these years. Isabel came to visit my mother a couple of times in their later years. Isabel and David made great contributions to socialism in China, through their writing, teaching and dedicated work for the revolution.”
Additionally, the Society for Anglo-Chinese Understanding (SACU) wrote on social media:
“SACU is saddened to hear of the passing of Isabel Crook. She died in Beijing in the early hours of Sunday morning, aged 107.
“Hers was an extraordinary life dedicated to the cause of the Chinese people, moved most especially by her compassion for the rural folk. Her experiences and studies spanned from the Chiang Kaishek era to Mao’s revolution and on to ‘reform and opening up’ – she paved the way for many of us from the West to understand the zigs and zags of China’s path. She was a good friend to SACU – as we mourn, we celebrate her life, aspiring to carry on her legacy.”
Many obituaries of Isabel have been published in mainstream newspapers, including in the British newspapers, the Guardian (written by veteran China specialist John Gittings), the Financial Times and the Times; the New York Times; and Canada’s Globe and Mail.