Chiung Yao

Chiung Yao or Qiong Yao (Chinese: 瓊瑤; born 20 April 1938) is the pen name of Chen Che, a Taiwanese writer and producer who is often regarded as the most popular romance novelist in the Chinese-speaking world.[1] Her novels have been adapted into more than 100 films and TV dramas.[2]

Early life

Chen Che and her twin brother were born in 1938 during the Second Sino-Japanese War in Chengdu, Sichuan, to parents who had fled Beijing which had fallen to Japanese troops in 1937. Both her father Chen Zhiping (陳致平) and mother Yuan Xingshu (袁行恕) were highly educated (Yuan's cousins include Yuan Xiaoyuan, Yuan Jing and Yuan Xingpei). In 1942, the family moved to Chen Zhiping's hometown of Hengyang, Hunan to join Chen Che's grandfather Chen Moxi (陳墨西). In 1944, following the fall of Hengyang, they survived an arduous journey to the wartime capital of Chongqing, during which they narrowly escaping death and rape several times.

In 1949, her family moved to Taiwan, where Chen attended the Affiliated Experimental Elementary School of University of Taipei (臺北師範學校附屬小學, now 國立臺北教育大學附設實驗國民小學) and Taipei Municipal Zhongshan Girls High School.[citation needed] After failing the university entrance examination three times, she married writer Ma Senqing and became a housewife.[3]


When she was 18, Chiung Yao fell in love with her high school Chinese teacher. This experience became the basis of her debut novel Outside the Window, which became one of her most popular works and launched her career as a writer.[3][4]

Chiung Yao's novels were first serialized in the Crown Magazine owned by Ping Hsin-tao and then published as monographs by Crown Publishing, also owned by Ping, who later became her second husband.[4] The couple adapted many of her novels into television series and films, often serving as producers or screenwriters themselves.[4] Film adaptations in the 1970s often featured Brigitte Lin, Joan Lin, Charlie Chin and/or Chin Han, who were then collectively known as the "Two Lins and Two Chins".

Her romance novels were very well received in Taiwan, and by the 1990s she was also one of the best-selling authors on mainland China.[5] She has since been enormously popular throughout the Chinese-speaking world.[4] Her biggest sellers are Outside the Window and Deep Is the Courtyard (1969), which have been repeatedly reprinted.[4]

Her novels have been praised for the prose, the poetry which are part of her earlier works, and the literary allusions of their titles.[4] They are often described as "morbid", as some of them feature socially-questionable romantic relationships (e.g. between teacher and student).[4] Her romance novels and their film adaptions have been criticized for their melodramatic plotlines[6][7] and long-winded dialogues.[8] Chiung Yao's readership and viewership are predominantly female, owing to her emphasis on the feelings of young women.[9]

Personal life

In 1959, Chiung Yao married Ma Senqing (馬森慶), also a writer. After she became famous and began to outshine her husband, their marriage broke down and ended in divorce in 1964.[10]

In 1979,[10] Chiung Yao married her publisher Ping Hsin-tao, who had had three children with his first wife Lin Wan-zhen. In 2018, Lin published a memoir in which she accused Chiung Yao of breaking up her marriage.[11]

After Ping suffered a stroke and lost nearly all ability to communicate, Chiung Yao had a falling out with her step-children over whether to continue his intubation.[11][12] Ping died on 23 May 2019, at the age of 92.[13]


On 15 April 2014, Chiung Yao accused Chinese screenwriter and producer Yu Zheng of blatant plagiarism, seeking immediate suspension of the broadcast of his TV series Palace 3: The Lost Daughter, which she alleged to have plagiarized from her 1992 novel Plum Blossom Scar [zh] (梅花烙). Yu denied the claim. On April 28, Chiung Yao filed a plagiarism lawsuit against Yu.[14] On December 12, 109 Chinese screenwriters published a joint statement supporting Chiung Yao.[15] A day later, an additional 30 Chinese screenwriters made their support of Chiung Yao known.[16]

On 25 December, the court ruled in Chiung Yao's favor, ordering four companies to stop distributing and broadcasting The Palace: The Lost Daughter, also demanding Yu Zheng to publicly apologize and pay Chiung Yao RMB 5 million (around $800,000) in compensation. China Radio International called it a "landmark ruling".[17][18]

List of works

Year Chinese Title English Title Notes
1962 情人谷 Lover's Dale[19] Translated into English by Tommy Lee
1963 窗外 Outside the Window
1964 煙雨濛濛 Misty Rain Translated into English by Mark Wilfer and released as Fire and Rain. Also known as Romance in the Rain.
1966 六個夢
  • 追尋
  • 啞妻
  • 三朵花
  • 生命的鞭
  • 歸人記錄
  • 流亡曲
Six Dreams Six Dreams is an anthology of six short stories. Wan-Chun's Three Loves was initially released as a novellette in 1965, then later collected into Six Dreams.
寒煙翠 Mist Over Dream Lake
1967 翦翦風
1968 彩雲飛 Flying Rosy Clouds Released as The Young Ones
1969 庭院深深 The Deep Garden and Courtyard Also released as Deep Garden
星河 Starry River
1971 水靈
白狐 White Fox
1972 海鷗飛處
心有千千結 The Heart has a Million Knots
1973 一簾幽夢 Dream Curtain Also known as Dream Link
1974 碧雲天
女朋友 Girlfriend
1975 在水一方 One Side of the Water Also known as The Unforgettable Character
1976 人在天涯
雁兒在林梢 The Wild Goose on the Wing
1977 一顆紅豆
1978 彩霞滿天
1979 夢的衣裳 Clothing of Dreams Released as My Cape of Many Dreams
1980 卻上心頭
1981 燃燒吧!火鳥 Burning Firebird
1982 匆匆,太匆匆
1983 失火的天堂
1985 冰兒
1984 不曾失落的日子·童年 Escape from Heng Yang[20] Translated into English by Eugene Lo Wei
1988 剪不斷的鄉愁-瓊瑤大陸行
1990 雪珂 Xue Ke (lit. Snow Jade)
望夫崖 Wang Fu Cliff (lit. The "Awaiting Husband" Cliff)
1992 青青河邊草 Green Green Grass By The River
梅花烙 Plum Blossom Branding [zh]
1993 水雲間 Between The Water and Cloud
鬼丈夫 Ghost Husband
1994 新月格格 Princess Xinyue (lit. Princess New-Moon)
煙鎖重樓 Smoke Amongst The Floor
1997 還珠格格 Princess Pearl Also known as My Fair Princess and Princess Returning Pearl
1998 蒼天有淚 Tears In Heaven
1999 還珠格格第二部 Princess Pearl Part 2
2003 還珠格格第三部之天上人間 Princess Pearl Part 3: Heaven and Earth


  1. ^ Ying, Li-hua (2010). Historical Dictionary of Modern Chinese Literature. The Scarecrow Press. p. 157. ISBN 978-0-8108-5516-8.
  2. ^ "琼瑶作品及影视对应表". Archived from the original on 2012-11-07. Retrieved 2016-11-01.
  3. ^ a b Jiang Bo 江波 (2013-08-07). "她让我们相信爱情 她自己的爱情也丰富多彩". Qianjiang Evening News. Retrieved 2019-06-21.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Mostow, Joshua S. (2003). The Columbia Companion to Modern East Asian Literature. Columbia University Press. p. 517. ISBN 978-0-231-11314-4.
  5. ^ Kristof, Nicholas D. (February 19, 1991). "A Taiwan Pop Singer Sways the Mainland". The New York Times. Retrieved May 25, 2010.
  6. ^ Xiao, Zhiwei; Zhang, Yingjin (2002). Encyclopaedia of Chinese Film. Routledge. ISBN 9781134745531.
  7. ^ Yeh, Emilie Yueh-yu; Davis, Darrell William (2013). Taiwan Film Directors: A Treasure Island. Columbia University Press. ISBN 9780231502993.
  8. ^ Feng, Jin (2013). Romancing the Internet: Producing and Consuming Chinese Web Romance. Brill. ISBN 9789004259720.
  9. ^ Lee, Daw-ming (2013). Historical Dictionary of Taiwan Cinema. The Scarecrow Press. pp. 125–8. ISBN 978-0-8108-6792-5.
  10. ^ a b "当你不再浪漫不再笑". Guangming Daily. 2017-04-18. Retrieved 2019-06-21.
  11. ^ a b "Publishing magnate's ex on queen of romance novels: 'The biggest problem in my marriage was Chiung Yao'". The Straits Times. 24 April 2018. Retrieved 7 June 2019.
  12. ^ Hsia, Heidi (4 August 2017). "Ping Xin-tao's son gives response to Chiung Yao". Yahoo! News Singapore. Retrieved 7 June 2019.
  13. ^ Chen Cheng-wei; Chung Yu-chen (2019-06-04). "Crown Magazine founding publisher dies aged 92". Central News Agency. Retrieved 2019-06-07.
  14. ^ "Chiung Yao Sues Yu Zheng for Plagiarism". Archived from the original on 2015-01-31. Retrieved 2015-03-13.
  15. ^ 琼瑶诉于正抄袭 109名编剧联名支持
  16. ^ "继续声援! 又有30余位编剧支持琼瑶诉于正". Archived from the original on 2017-04-13. Retrieved 2015-03-13.
  17. ^ "Court Supports Chiung Yao's Plagiarism Charges". 2014-12-25. Archived from the original on March 15, 2015.
  18. ^ Chou, Chou I-ling; Chen, Ted (25 December 2014). "Taiwanese novelist wins 5 million yuan in Beijing court case". Central News Agency. Archived from the original on 26 December 2014. Retrieved 26 December 2014.
  19. ^ Chiung Yao (January 1966). "Lover's Dale". Free China Review. 16 (1). Translated by Tommy Lee.
  20. ^ Chung Yao (2008). Escape from Heng Yang: The Memoir of a Six-Year-Old Refugee Girl. Translated by Eugene Lo Wei. Dorrance Publishing Company. ISBN 9780805977325.

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