In 1872 William Simpson was asked if he would like to include China in his next tour and cover the Emperor of China's marriage in Peking. Having planned an extensive trip, Simpson felt that including China would be an exciting idea and would complete his world tour.
He set off on 5 August 1872 passing through Alexandria, Aden and Ceylon, Penang and Singapore before arriving in Hong Kong on 16 September. The marriage celebrations took place a month later and Simpson took the opportunity afterwards of making the 4-5 day trek to the Great Wall from Peking. He approached the wall by way of the Nan-Kow pass.
The Great Wall, wrote Simpson 'is one of the Seven Wonders of the World which one has read of and wondered about in boyhood. Who has not wished to see such a monument, and wondered whether fate would ever give him the chance of doing so? (W. Simpson, Meeting the Sun: A journey all around the World, London, 1874, p. 243).
As well as his usual commission from the Illustrated London News, the Daily Post approached Simpson and asked him if he saw fit to send in one or two letters from his travels, particularly regarding the Emperor's marriage. Simpson agreed, describing himself in this capacity as 'a kind of double barrelled correspondant' (op. cit., p.8).
A similar view of the Great Wall, made for the Illustrated London News, is illustrated as a lithograph in W. Simpson, op. cit., opp. p. 243.