Local historian weaves new threads in the Silk Road story

Prominent Macclesfield historian Dorothy Bentley Smith met recently with local MP, David Rutley, to discuss her successful visit to China as Visiting Professor at Hangzhou Normal University, helping to strengthen ties between the two ends of the ancient Silk Road.

Dorothy was invited to take on the prestigious role earlier this year, following the success of her book about the life and times of the Georgian Macclesfield silk merchant, Charles Roe, and a meeting at an academic workshop with a professor from the University. The outcome of that meeting was an invitation to lecture postgraduate students about English silk made in Macclesfield, and its importance to the Silk Road.

Her visit was an overwhelming success. As well as having the opportunity to meet with her eminent Chinese counterparts, such as those at the China National Silk Museum, a copy of her book was given pride of place in the University’s Departmental Library. Dorothy was also privileged to explore the site where the earliest-known example of silkworm-derived silk, some 4,000 years-old, was discovered.

Now back from China, Dorothy continues to work hard to build on the success of her visit. She is working with Macclesfield Town Council to help ensure that the links she has helped to forge between Macclesfield and Hangzhou are strengthened and furthered in the years ahead.

Highlighting her prolific output as a historian, Dorothy’s latest book, ‘No Ordinary Surgeon: The Life and Times of William Binley Dickinson’, which also details the excitement surrounding Parliamentary elections for the Borough of Macclesfield in the 19th century, will be published on 15th December.

Speaking after his meeting, David said, “I am very pleased that Dorothy’s visit was such a well-deserved success. She has carried the torch for Macclesfield all the way to China and back, helping to forge closer links between both ends of the Silk Road and promoting Macclesfield abroad. I look forward to continuing to work with Dorothy going forward, to further develop this important relationship.”

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