XIAO QIAN Biography - Theater, Opera and Movie personalities


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Xiao Qian , pinyin Xiao Qian, Wade-Giles Hsiao Ch’ien), alias Nuoping ) (27 January 1910 - 11 February1999) was a famous essayist, editor, journalist and translator from China. His life spanned the country before and after the establishment of the People’s Republic of China.




Early Years Xiao was born on 27 January, 1910 in Beijing, China. He was born into a sinicized Mongolian family. His father passed away before he was born, leaving only his mother to bring him up. His mother died when he was seven, and he was sent to live with his cousins. Xiao Qian’s original name was Xiao Bingqian , Xiao Bingqian).


School Days


Xiao entered the Chong Shi School , Chongshi Xiaoxue) ,a Western-run church school, when he turned seven years old in 1917. He took up part-time jobs to pay for his tuition fees while studying there. His errands included weaving Turkish rugs, delivering milk and mimeographing lecture notes in the school administration office. He worked in the morning and studied in the afternoon.


About half a year before graduating from junior middle school in 1924, he worked as a trainee in a bookstore called Beixin Press during his summer vacation. This sparked his interest in literature. In the same year, he joined the Communist Youth League , Zhongguo Gongchan Zhuyi Qingniantuan).


In 1931 Xiao enrolled in Furen University , Furen Daxue), where he met an American youth William Allen. Together they published an English magazine named China in brief, Zhongguo Jianbao) The eighth issue marked its closure due to the lack of sufficient funding. Still, it brought about a great deal of influence on the western readers in Beijing at the time. The existing version of the magazine carries works from certain famous authors such as Lu Xun , Lu Xun), Mao Dun , Mao Dun) , Guo Moruo , Guo Moruo), Wen Yiduo , Wen Yiduo) and Yu Dafu , Yu Dafu). Besides, during this period, he met Shen Cong-Wen , Shen Congwen) and became one of his students. Shen Cong-Wen greatly influenced Xiao’s early writings.


Xiao then entered the Faculty of English in Yenching University , Yanjing Daxue) in 1933 and switched to the Faculty of Journalism during autumn of the same year. His teacher was an American journalist named Edgar Snow, and it was Snow who encouraged him to make use of various literary techniques in journalistic reporting, which marked the ‘uniqueness’ of Xiao’s writings. He graduated from the University in June 1936. He then furthered his studies as a postgraduate student at Cambridge University, and became one of the lecturers at University College London soon after.


Life in England


In 1939, at the age of 28, Xiao Qian arrived England to work as an instructor in modern Chinese language for the School of Oriential and African Studies (SOAS) 1 . SOAS was moved to Cambridge when Germany began the Blitz (a devastating bombing campaign) in London.


Xiao was politically active at the time and gave regular talks for the ‘China Campaign Committee’, a left-wing group which campaigned on behalf of China, against the Japanese occupation in China.


Marriage and Family


Xiao’s good friend and older sister Bing Xin once mentioned that a lack of love in his childhood made him an amorous man.


He married for a total of four times. He met his first wife, Wang Shucang, in 1936 while working on the Shanghai edition of the Takung Pao. However, the couple only stayed together for two years before he met and fell in love with another woman during his stay in Hong Kong. They had a son born in 1948, and this affair compelled Xiao to seek a divorce from Wang. However, because of her rejection, Xiao left China for England by ship.


In 1954, Xiao married his fourth wife, Wen Jieruo, Wen Jieruo) 2 They had two sons and a daughter. The daughter was born on 30 January 1955, and was named Xiao Lizi, Xiao Lizi).


Later years


During the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), because Xiao Qian was regarded by the Chinese Communist Party as being a member of the Right Wing , Youpai), he was banished to the countryside. In 1968, he tried to commit suicide but in vain. In 1978, he received the redress of the mishandled case.


In 1999, Xiao Qian, at the age of ninety, died of myocardial infarction and renal failure in Beijing.