Middlesex County Historical Society author talks about ‘Merchants of Deceit’

MIDDLETOWN – The Middlesex County Historical Society will hold its annual meeting Monday at 7 p.m. at the Samuel Russell House, 350 High St.

The 2022 Arthur R. Schultz Memorial Lecture will begin directly after the business portion of the meeting, with Richard Friswell presenting a reading and lecture based on his new book, “Merchants of Deception: Opium, American Fortune, and Chinese Trade.”

This work of historical fiction deals with the life and times of 19th-century Middletown resident Samuel Russell and his years in Canton, China, according to a news release. The book examines China’s booming opium trade in the early 1800s, revealing a little-known chapter in American history.


Signed copies will be available for sale and the author will donate a portion of the proceeds to the society.

Friswell, the annual meeting speaker, is a visiting scholar at Wesleyan University, where he co-directs the Wesleyan Wasch Seminars, an adult education program.

As a cultural historian, his lectures and publications deal with important topics through the imaginary eye of a storyteller, according to the press release.

Previous publications include dozens of print and online articles on art, architecture and design topics; a book of essays, “Balancing Act: Postcards from the Edge of Risk & Reward (2015) and “Hudson River Chronicles” (2018), a work of historical fiction dealing with the life and times of painter Thomas Cole.

Friswell speaks and lectures extensively on topics related to the “modern age,” a time during the 18th and 19th centuries when Western civilization was undergoing rapid change in the face of the Industrial Revolution and widespread political and social upheaval, said the society.

He lives, paints and writes in Branford.

Members and non-members are welcome. All campus visitors must be fully immunized, including a booster dose, to attend this event. Visitor parking will be available in the lots next to and across the High Street from Russell House.

For information, e-mail
[email protected]
or call 860-346-0746.

To join via Zoom, sign up at bit.ly/3KYE8QC.

Lola R. McClure