He passed his Jinshi degree in 1640, becoming a magistrate in Shandong where he defended the city from attack from Manchu Qing army. He would however take his place in the new Manchu regime in a variety of official capacities. In 1655, he was accused of official corruption and finally faced imprisonment. There he edited his poetry collection Laigutang Ji (賴古堂集). Zhou was eventually granted amnesty in 1661. He was accused again of corruption in 1669. He sentence was hanging, but was again given amnesty.
Late in life, he destroyed many of his writings, but fortunately not of his many associates, whose work he shaped and edited. Among his surviving works is a collection of jottings known as Yinshuwu Shuying (因树屋书影), a work he compiled in prison, and a remarkable collection of letters, Chidu Xinchao (尺牍新抄). The collection of letters was a democratic undertaking. Many of the collected letters are by those who aided in the compilation. In a real sense, Zhou was chief editor. In the immediate years after his death, Zhou was considered a writer of the first rank. By the 18th century, he and other writers who had served two dynasties were then considered of a lower level. In the late 18th century, his works were considered anathema by the ruling monarch.
- Kim, Hongnam., The Life of a Patron, China Institute, 1996.
- Hummel, Arthur W., Eminent Chinese of the Ch’ing Period, Washington, 1943, pp. 173–174.
- Carpenter, Bruce E., ‘A Seventeenth-Century Chinese Anthology of Letters’, Tezukayama University Review (Tezukayama daigaku ronshū), Nara, Japan, 1990, no. 69, pp. 176–190).
- Carpenter, Bruce E., "Chou Liang-kung’s Shadows of Reading ", Tezukayama University Review (Tezukayama daigaku ronshū ), Nara, Japan, 1988, no. 62, pp. 35–43.
- Wu, Zhengming, "Zhou Lianggong". Encyclopedia of China, 1st ed.
- Landscapes Clear and Radiant: The Art of Wang Hui (1632-1717), an exhibition catalog from The Metropolitan Museum of Art (fully available online as PDF), which contains material on Zhou Lianggong (see index)