SKINNER, Alan Maclean. A Geography of the Malay Peninsula and Surrounding Countries. I three Parts. Part I [all published]. Malay Peninsula. Borneo. Singapore, [no printer or publisher], 1884.
8vo. Original green printed wrappers; pp. , viii, 89, tipped-in lithographic map with a little later by-colouring and four areas in the original hand-colour; new backstrip and a few restorations to margins of wrappers; stab holes from original binding, re-sewn; still a good copy of a great rarity.
First edition of the first English-language textbook for and on Malaysia, written by the Colonial Treasurer, Inspector of Schools and member of the Straits Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. 'For the first 50 years of colonial rule, the Straits government took little interest in the conduct of education. Schools were established mainly as charitable entities by Christian missionaries, clan associations, and well-meaning business or community leaders. This changed in 1872, when Allan Maclean Skinner was appointed the first Inspector of Schools. One of Skinner’s first priorities was to organise the English schools to allow students to study up to Standard 6. By 1879, there were six Government English schools, and in 1884, it was decided that RI would be gradually raised to the status of a high school in Singapore' (Raffles Institution, online).
Skinner points out in the preface 'the want of a Book on the Geography of this part of the world, written in a way suitable for this Colony's Schools, has been frequently urged upon the Straits Government, and has led to the compilation of the present work' (p. v). Skinner then expresses his intention not 'to write down to the apprehension of children', and indeed, the book is very well written and packed with the latest information on population, products, languages, topography and the rapidly developing infrastructure. In the section on Selangor he writes that it 'is a comparatively recent State, the western part of its territory having apparently been left unoccupied from time out of mind, to a greater degree than any other part of the Peninsula' (p. 40). He then describes the main settlements and regions of the state, such as Klang, Selangor itself, Lankat, and Jugra 'where the Sultan resides' (p. 42).
We were able to locate a single copy via COPAC, at Glasgow University.