Native of Changzhou, Jiangsu. he took the jinshi exam 17 times and did not pass until he was 60 and came to the attention of the Qianlong emperor. He then served in a number of educational posts for the next 37 years, and received many awards. He died at the age of 97 and posthumously his awards were stripped from him for writing a work in which seditious setiments were discovered.|
Regarding poetry he was conservative; 'Shen Deqian attempeted to promote a revival of classicism in both form and content. Poetry, he claimed, should serve a didactic and moral function. On this point he opposed his contemporary Yuan Mei who emphasized individual genius (xinglingshuo 性靈說) by stressing, in its stead, the primacy of the poetic form (Gediaoshuo 格調說).'*
*Marie Chan in Waiting For The Unicorn, Poems and Lyrics of China's Last Dynasty, 1644-1911, Irving Yucheng Lo and William Schultz.