Su Manshu was born in Yokohama, Japan of a Cantonese merchant and a Japanese mother. At a young age he went ot his father's home town of Xiangshan, Guangdong. He retured to Yokohama to attend school and from there went to Tokyo where he joined the Chinese student movement against the Qing Manchu rulers.|
Back in China he became a Buddhist monk, a journalist, a party loving rake, a novelist and poet. To modern readers his works seem sentimental, paticularly his novel The Lone Swan. but to appreciate and understand his life and work one must go back to the time when he lived. In 1928 the firve volume set of the Complete Works of Manshu were published in Shanghai and sold tens of thousands of copies, a record sale for a Chinese book in those days.Liu Wuji, who together with his father Wu Yazi the compiler of this work, writes:
''For Chinese writers in the first decades of this (20th) century, revolutionary fervor and sentimantality, while seemingly unrelated, were their two main sources of inspiration. Oppressed by the harsh realities and inequities of life, they were motivated by a fervor for profound social and political change: as these hopes were dashed by events, their spirits plummeted to the nadir of distress and despair, engulfing them in waves of morbid emotion. Manshu's romantic sentiments were well known to his friends, but it was not until the late 1920's that our studies of his life revealed in him a hitherto unsuspected element-a revolutionary spirit, however transient and shortlived, which spurred him into action during his youth. This aspect of his character became even more evident as more facts about his personal history were disclosed by former friends and revolutionary comrades. Needless to say, the failiure of his effort to save the country plunged him, as it did many of his friends, into a pessimism and self-abandonment that ultimately led to his premature death"*
Popular tradition has Manshu dying in Shanghai at the age of 34 from eating 40 baozi on a bet. The more prozaic truth has him dying in a Shanghai hospital after a long illness. He was never in good health throughout his short life.
*Liu Wuchi in Su Man-shu (a biography), Indiana University, Twayne Publishers, Inc. 1972
1884 Born in Yokohama, Japan, on September 28.
1889 Returned to Li~ch'i, Kwangtung province, China. 1896 Went to Shanghai.
1897 Stayed with aunt in Shanghai.
1898 Returned to Yokohama and entered Ta-t'ung School. 1902 Entered senior preparatory course at Waseda University.
1903 Entered Ch'eng-ch'cng Academy in Tokyo; returned to Shanghai; went to Hong Kong, thence to Hui-chou, Kwangtung, and became a Buddhist monk.
1904 Traveled to Siam and Ceylon and started to learn Sanskrit; taught at the Industrial School in Ch'ang-sha in the fall.
1905 Went to Nanking to teach at a military school.
1906 Taught at Ming-te School (Ch'ang-sha) and Wan-chiang Middle School (Wu-hu); traveled in China and Japan.
1908 In Japan, published Affinities in Literature; returned to China to teach in the Buddhist Institute (Jetavana School) in Nanking. 1909 In Japan, published Selected Poems of Byron; moved to Surabaya.
Java, to teach.
1911 Vacationed in Tokyo and published the Voices oflhe Tide.
1912 Left Java for Hong Kong and Shanghai to join the editorial staff of The Pacific News; published The Lone Swan.
1913 Traveled widely in China and Japan and published Random Noles
from (1 Swallow's M aliso/eum.
1914 In Japan, published the Esoleric Essences of Chinese-English Poelry. 1916 Returned to China.
1917 Extended il1ness and recuperation.
1918 Entered Kuang-tz'u Hospital in the Shanghai French Concession;
died May 2.