In winter 1902, in the ruins of post-Boxer Uprising Beijing, two women from two different worlds joined hands in friendship—the
former concubine and legendary tyrant Empress Dowager Cixi, and the Midwest-born, devoutly Christian diplomat’s wife
Sarah Pike Conger. Together, they made history.
Hayter-Menzies reveals for the first time the story of two women from worlds that could not seem farther apart—imperial
China, the American Midwest—who found common ground before and after one of the greatest clashes between East and West,
the fifty-five day siege of the Beijing foreign legations known as the Boxer Uprising.
The Empress and Mrs. Conger traces the parallel lives of Empress Dowager Cixi and American ambassador’s wife Sarah
Pike Conger, which converged to alter their perspectives of each other and each other’s worlds: Mrs. Conger’s
growing love for China through her efforts to befriend, learn from and help Chinese women, the Dowager’s growing appreciation,
through Mrs. Conger, of the need for reform and the usefulness of cooperation with the West for the good of China.