曹禺 (1910 - 1996)
Cao Yu (1910 - 1996)
Originally named Wan Jiabao; ancestral home in Qianjiang, Hubei province. Cao Yu was born to a declining bureaucratic family in Tianjin. Even in childhood, he was already very fond of literature and stage plays. After entering Nankai High School in Tianjin in 1922, Cao developed a keen interest in drama. He performed in productions such as Ding Xilin’s Oppression, and Henrik Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People and A Doll’s House. In 1930 in Tsinghua University, he transferred from the Department of Political Science to the Department of Foreign Literature, and in 1934 he published his maiden play Thunderstorm in Literature Quarterly, winning widespread acclaim. In 1935, he turned out his second play Sunrise, in which he gave an insightful account of the urban life of China in the 30s and exposed the dark reactionary rule of the time. The play won a literary prize awarded by the newspaper L’ impartiale in 1936.
In 1936, Cao completed The Wilderness, the only play of his on the theme of rural life. This play was written under considerable influence of Eugene O’Neill. In 1940, he returned to more familiar ground and produced Peking Man, a play that again featured life in the feudalistic family, yet even more unaffected, perceptive and artistically mature. In 1978, he wrote the drama Wang Zhaojun. In his late years he was pursued by illness. He passed away in 1996 at the age of 86.