LING SHUHUA (1900—1990)
LING SHUHUA (1900—1990). Fiction writer and painter. Born in Beijing, educated at Beijing University and in Japan and England, Ling wrote mostly short stories. Though not a prolific writer, Ling created some of the most unforgettable stories that capture the frustration of Chinese women caught in a traditional way of life. “Xiu zhen” (The Embroidered Pillows) and “Zhongqiu zhi ye” (The Night of Mid-Autumn Festival) are among her best stories. Her friendship with Julian Bell, son of Vanessa Bell and nephew of Virginia Woolf, enabled her to form enduring relationships with members of the Bloomsbury group. Encouraged by Virginia Woolf, with whom she corresponded, Ling wrote a memoir in English, Ancient Melodies, about her childhood growing up in an influential Beijing family headed by her scholar-official father, with his six wives and 10 children. Partially because of this privileged background and particially because of the narrow focus on women’s domestic life in her writing, Ling is generally considered a “guixiu zuojia” (writer of the boudoir). She was also an accomplished artist, thanks to the training she received in her early childhood. She moved to London in the late 1940s with her husband, Chen Xiying, a scholar and a diplomat for the Nationalist government. She died in Beijing.