Xia Yan (Hsia Yen) [real name Shen Naixi] 1900-

From a poor family in Zhejiang province, Xia Yan participated actively in the May Fourth Movement, founding and editing the magazine Zhejiang xinchao [Zhejiang new tide]. In 1920, he went to Japan for further study and read a large amount of Western literature in translation and became acquainted with Marxism. This involvement with Communism led to his expulsion from Japan. Back in Shanghai in 1929, he became closely involved with the theatre scene and in 1932 went to work for a film studio. There he wrote scripts, often adapting the work of other writers (such as Mao Dun) for the screen. He also began writing play scripts, including Qiu Jin zhuan [The story of Qiu Jin] and Shanghai wuyan xia [Beneath the eaves of Shanghai]. During the War of Resistance against Japan, he worked as a newspaer editor and continued his career as a playwright, spending some time in Hong Kong. After 1949, he playing a prominent role in literary affairs, but suffered sustained persecution during the Cultural Revolution.

Works available in English:

  • The Test: A Play in Five Acts (Ying Yu). Beijing: Foreign Languages Press,