(Chinese/naturalized British, 1917– )
Han Suyin was born in China, to a Belgian mother and Chinese father. She qualified as a doctor in London, and, while living in Hong Kong, wrote the autobiographical love-story which made her famous, A Many-Splendoured Thing (1952, filmed in 1955). The very different worlds of capitalist, cosmopolitan Hong Kong and newly revolutionary China are contrasted in this story of love across racial barriers. Han Suyin's novels, especially The Mountain is Young (1958) and Winter Love (1962) are highly regarded by feminists, the latter being about a lesbian affair in London in the 1940s. She is adventurous with her writing style, notably in Cast But One Shadow (1962). She has also written autobiography and a history of modern China, and has been regarded with suspicion by some, who see her as an apologist for Mao's regime.
Timothy Mo, Amy Tan FS