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Famous Like Me > Writer > S > Han Suyin

Profile of Han Suyin on Famous Like Me

Name: Han Suyin  
Also Know As:
Date of Birth: 12th September 1917
Place of Birth: Sinyang, Henan, China
Profession: Writer
From Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia

Han Suyin (Chinese: 韩素音; pinyin: Hán Sùyīn) (born on September 12, 1917 - ), is the pen name of Elisabeth Comber, born Rosalie Elisabeth Kuanghu Chow (Chinese: 周光湖, pinyin: Zhōu Guānghú). She is a Chinese-born author of several books on modern China, novels set in East Asia, and autobiographical works, as well as a physician.

Han Suyin was born in Xinyang, Henan province, China. Her father was a Chinese engineer surnamed Chow (Chinese: 周; pinyin: Zhōu), of Hakka heritage, while her mother was a Flemish Belgian. In 1938 Han Suyin married Pao H. Tang (Tang Paohuang), a Chinese Nationalist military officer, who was to become a general. They adopted one daughter.

She began work as a typist at Beijing Hospital in 1931, not yet fifteen years old. In 1933 she was admitted to Yanjing (Yenching) University (later part of Peking University). In 1935 she went to Brussels to study medicine. In 1938 she returned to China, working in an American Christian mission hospital in Chengdu (Cheng-tu), Sichuan, then went again to London in 1944 to study, graduated with a Bachelor's of Medicine (MB) in 1948 and went to Hong Kong to practice medicine in 1949. Her husband, Tang, meanwhile, had died in action during the Chinese Civil War in 1947.

In 1952, she married Leonard F. Comber, a British civil servant, and went with him to Johore, Malaya (present-day Malaysia), where she worked in a tuberculosis hospital. She contributed efforts to the establishment of Nanyang University in Singapore. In 1955, her best-known work, Many-Splendored Thing, was made into a Hollywood film.

After Comber and Han Suyin's divorce, she later married Vincent Ratnaswamy, an Indian colonel (died January 2003 in Bangalore, India), and lived for a time in Bangalore, India. After the two separated, Han Suyin relocated to Switzerland. She currently resides in Lausanne and has written in English and French.


Cultural and political conflicts between East and West in modern history play a central role in Han Suyin's work. She also explores the struggle for liberation in Southeast Asia and the internal and foreign policies of modern China since the end of the imperial regime. Many of her writings feature the colonial backdrop in East Asia during the 19th and 20th centuries.


  • L'abbé Pierre (1965, French only)
  • L'abbé Prévost (1975, French only)
  • Destination Chungking (1942) [note: Chungking=Chongqing]
  • A Many-Splendoured Thing (1952)
  • The Mountain Is Young (1958)
  • Winter Love (1962)
  • Cast But One Shadow (1962)
  • Four Faces (1963)
  • Till Morning Comes (1982)
  • The Enchantress (1985)

Autobiographical works

  • And the Rain My Drink (1956)
  • The Crippled Tree (1965)
  • A Mortal Flower (1966)
  • Birdless Summer (1968)
  • My House Has Two Doors (1980)
  • Phoenix Harvest (1982)
  • Wind In My Sleeve (1992)
  • A Share of Loving (1988)
  • Fleur de soleil, histoire de ma vie (1988, French only: Flower of sun: the story of my life)

Historical studies

  • China in the Year 2001 (1967)
  • The Morning Deluge: Mao Tsetong and the Chinese Revolution 1893-1954 (1972)
  • Lhasa, the Open City (1976)
  • Wind in the Tower: Mao Tsetong and the Chinese Revolution, 1949-1965 (1976)
  • China 1890-1938: From the Warlords to World War (1989; historical photo-reportage)
  • Eldest Son: Zhou Enlai and the Making of Modern China (1994)
  • Asia Today: Two Outlooks (1969)

External Links

  • Women writers of Color: Han Suyin
  • Han Suyin Research, by Diong Jiandong
  • Han Suyin, Elizabeth Comber, Gregory Melle's Personal Opinion and Author Bio
  • Bibliography
  • Interview with Han Suyin, with RealAudio (interviewed by Don Swaim)

This content from Wikipedia is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Han Suyin