Fuzhou ('Foochow' or 'Fy-chow'), China
- 5 November 1893
Bournemouth, United Kingdom
- entertainer, tea salesman and importer and exporter
- Alternative Names
- Chang the Chinese Giant (stage name)
- Chang tu-Sing (also used)
- Chang Woo Gow (also used)
- Chang Yu Sing (also used)
Chang Woo Gow, also known by his stage name Chang the Chinese Giant was born in China in the 1840s and was roughly 8 foot in height. He first began showing himself in London c1865 but was soon touring Europe, United States of America and Australia. He was well educated and reportedly spoke roughly 10 languages. For many years he toured with his Chinese-born wife, Kin Foo (also known by other names). During a visit to Australia in 1871 he met and subsequently married English-born Catherine Santley. In 1878 Chang retired from the stage to establish a Chinese tea and curio shop in Bournemouth, England. He died prematurely in 1893 at the age of 50.
Chang was born some time in the 1840s in China (1841, 1844, 1846 or 1847) in either Fuzhou or Peking (Beijing). He first showed himself in England in 1865-1866 at the Egyptian Hall in Piccadilly with his wife, Kin Foo (King Foo or King Fow described as meaning Golden Lily or Fair Lily in China) and a Chinese dwarf called Chung Mow. He was only in his late teens. He also toured Europe and was reported as speaking up to ten languages. P.T. Barnam apparently lured Chang to tour the United States of America by offering to pay him $500 a month. He arrived in New York on 1 December 1880. While in America he posed in a number of different costumes including mandarin robes, a French military uniform, the armour and the dress of a Mongolian warrior.
He arrived in Victoria, from the US and via New Zealand at the end of 1870. He toured parts of Victoria in 1870-1871. The Argus reported on his popular displays at St George's Hall and Weston's Opera House in January and February 1871. The Bendigo Advertiser (28 February 1871) reported on his show at the Lyceum Theatre in Bendigo. He was accompanied by his wife who chatted with customers in English and sold photographs of the troupe. He appears to have stayed in the Bendigo area from 16 February 1871 to March 1871. He performed at the Benevolent Asylum with half the reciepts being donated to the Asylum. A wax effegy was also made of him which was later displayed at the 1877 Bendigo Easter Fair and was still being promoted as part of the fair as late as 1895.
During his visit to Sydney in 1871 the Mayor of Sydney presented him with a gold watch which according to the Age's obituary of him he always wore. Although another account states that it was given to him by Queen Victoria.
While in Australia, after the death of his first wife, Chang met Catherine Santley who he later married. According to research by Philip Bramble, Chang met Catherine (Kitty) through his associate, Mr John Rodgers, Secretary of the Sydney School of Arts Hall, where Chang had appeared. They married in the Congregational Church in Sydney, by Rev. John Graham (apparently at his house at the corner of Stanley and College Sts). Catherine Santley was born in Liverpool, Lancashire in the United Kingdom in June 1847. She was the daughter of Edwin Santley and Margaret Booley.
They had two children - Edwin (born c1877 in Shanghai, China) and Ernest (born c1879 in Paris, France). Chang returned to China around 1877-1878 and then the family lived in England. The 1881 census shows Catherine and her two sons (Chang was not present on either census night) living in Manchester but by the 1891 census they are recorded as living in Bournemouth. The family apparently moved to Bournemouth to help cure Chang's suspected tuberculosis. There he established an 'Oriental Bazaar' and tearooms where he sold Chinese curios, bronzes and silks and Chinese tea. He was reported as dying of a broken heart four months after his wife died in 1893, when he was around 50 years old.
Sources used to compile this entry: Batchen, G., 'A perfect likeness', in Ellis, Helen (ed.), Mirror with a Memory: Photographic Portraiture in Australia, National Portrait Gallery, Canberra, ACT, 2000, pp. 27-36; Kunhardt, Philip B., Kunhardt III, Philip B. & Kunhardt, Peter W., P.T. Barnum: America's Greatest Showman, 1st edn, Knopf, New York, 1995; Reeder, Warwick, 'The democratic image: The carte-de-visite photograph in Australia 1859-1874', Mlit, 1995; Bendigo Advertiser, 28/2/1871, plus assorted others (7/3/1871, 3/4/1871, 4/4/1871, 2/4/1871, 31/3/1871, 8/6/1878, 16/4/1895). Argus, assorted January and February 1871. Age, 11 November 1893. Bendigo Advertiser Index, Golden Dragon Museum collection. Argus Index, 1860s-1870s. Births, Deaths and Marriages indexes - New South Wales, Victoria Picture History On-line Archive, 'Choung Chi Fang', http://www.picturehistory.com/find/p/7999/mcms.html (accessed 25/6/2004). South West Grid for Learning, 'People & personalities In Bournemouth', http://www.swgfl.org.uk/seaside/Themes/People.htm (accessed 25/6/2004). Ashleigh Hotel, 'The gentle giant', http://www.ashleighhotel.co.uk/chang.html (accessed 25/6/2004). Footlight Notes, 'Chang the Chinese Giant', http://footlightnotes.tripod.com/Chang.html (accessed 25/6/2004). Email communication with Nick Waloff, 28 October 2006. Email communication with Marcel Safier, 1 April 2007.
Prepared by: Sophie Couchman, La Trobe University
Chinese Museum (Museum of Chinese Australian History)
- D. O'Hoy collection, 2012.05, P-Series; Chinese Museum (Museum of Chinese Australian History). Details
State Library of New South Wales - Mitchell Library
- Picture collection; State Library of New South Wales - Mitchell Library. Details
- Butler, Peter, Opium and Gold, Alister Taylor, Waiura, Martinborough, New Zealand, 1977. Details
- Chang Woo Gow, Chang Woo Gow: The tall man of Fychow: His live and history of his travels: dedicated to the people of Austalasia, Jones, Print, Auckland, 1869. Details
- Chang, Woo Gow, The Autobiography of Chang: His travels & notes by the wayside through England, Ireland, Scotland, China, France, America, and the Colonies, J.A. Engel, Printer, Sydney, 1871. Details
- Chisholm, Marquis, The Adventures of a Travelling Musician in Australia, China & Japan, London?, 1865. Details
- Kunhardt, Philip B., Kunhardt III, Philip B. & Kunhardt, Peter W., P.T. Barnum: America's Greatest Showman, 1st edn, Knopf, New York, 1995. Details
- Batchen, G., 'A perfect likeness', in Ellis, Helen (ed.), Mirror with a Memory: Photographic Portraiture in Australia, National Portrait Gallery, Canberra, ACT, 2000, pp. 27-36. Details
- Reeder, Warwick, 'The democratic image: The carte-de-visite photograph in Australia 1859-1874', Mlit, 1995. Details
- Chang standing with unidentified person
- c. 1870 - c. 1894
- Chang the Chinese Giant with an unidentified Chinese woman and European man
- c. 1871
- Australia - Victoria - Melbourne
- Chang, the Chinese Giant
- c. 1871
- Australia - Victoria - Ballarat
Created: 26 March 2003, Last modified: 15 June 2009