Wen Yiduo

Wen Yiduo (24 November 1899 – 15 July 1946) was a prominent Chinese poet and scholar who was assassinated by the Kuomintang.

Wen was born Wén Jiāhuá (聞家驊) on 24 November 1899 in present-day Xishui County, Huanggang, Hubei. After receiving a traditional education he went on to continue studying at the Tsinghua University.

In 1922, he traveled to the United States to study fine arts and literature at the Art Institute of Chicago. It was during this time that his first collection of poetry, Hongzhu (紅燭, “Red Candle”), was published. In 1925, he traveled back to China and took a university teaching post. In 1928, his second collection, Sishui (死水, “Dead Water”), was published. In the same year he joined the Crescent Moon Society and wrote essays on poetry. He also began to publish the results of his classical Chinese literature research.

At the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War, he and many other intellectuals from northeastern China migrated to Kunming, Yunnan. There he was able to continue to teach, this time in the wartime National Southwestern Associated University. Wen stopped writing poetry in 1931 and became increasingly involved in social criticism. He became politically active in 1944 in support of the China Democratic League. His outspoken nature led to his assassination by secret agents of the Kuomintang after eulogizing his friend Li Gongpu’s life at Li’s funeral in 1946.

There is a monument to Wen at the Yunnan Normal University campus in Kunming, as can a large statue. A small memorial to him, including a wall portrait painted from a famous picture of him smoking his pipe is found in a walkway by his former home (the site is now part of an elementary school) in the Green Lake area of Kunming. He and his wife, Gao Zhen, are buried at the Babaoshan Revolutionary Cemetery in Beijing.