Lilian Lee

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Li Pi-Hua (simplified Chinese: 李碧华; traditional Chinese: 李碧華; Sidney Lau: Lee3Pik1Wah4; born 1959 as 李白 Li Pak), also known as Lilian Lee, Lillian Lee[1] and Lee Pik-wah, is a prolific Hong Kong novelist, screenwriter and reporter.

Lee's writing is known for blending traditional Chinese, supernatural and everyday Hong Kong elements into her narratives. Her most famous works, Rouge, Farewell My Concubine and Green Snake, were also made into films in the 1980s and 1990s, giving her greater international visibility. In those instances, Lee also co-wrote the screenplays. Her novels and essays have appeared in newspapers in Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong.

One of Hong Kong's best-selling authors, Lee has published more than 120 titles (as of 2018) through Hong Kong's bookseller Cosmos Books (天地图书). With the exception of Farewell My Concubine and Kawashima Yoshiko, most of her books have yet to be translated from Chinese into English or made widely available.[1]


Family and early life[edit]

Lee's ancestral homeland is Taishan, Guangdong Province, China. She was born Li Bai (李白) to a rich and big family in Hong Kong. Her wealthy paternal grandfather had four wives and passed the family business of traditional Chinese medicine to her father. She was brought up in a big old house and heard many stories which would later become her source of inspiration.[2]

True Light Middle School of Hong Kong

Education and occupation[edit]

Since young, Lee has developed a strong passion for literature. As a student of True Light Middle School of Hong Kong, she actively contributed to Happy Family and Chinese Student Weekly (中國學生周報). She once studied at Kyoto University, Japan, and has had various jobs. She was a primary school teacher while working as a reporter. Lee is widely known as a screenwriter for TV series, movie and dramas.

At a young age, she learned Traditional Chinese Dance for about ten years. Lee has danced for a dance company in New York. With her rich experience in dancing, Lee helped organize several dance dramas for the Hong Kong Dance Company. In 2001, Lee directed a dance drama adapted from her novel Fen Mo Chun Qiu (粉墨春秋), performed by Hua Jin Dance Company. In 2013, she worked with the National Theatre Company of China and adapted her novel Green Snake into a dance drama.


Lee is a well-known writer in Hong Kong, but she has never appeared in public. Although her fans are curious about her appearance, Lee refused to publish anything with or about her appearance, family background and experience. Lee once explained, "Stop being curious about my appearance. I have such an ordinary appearance that I cannot be easily recognised in the masses. It is not worth discussing. To me, keeping a proper distance from the people and things is a good thing. I do not care much about my influence or how many readers I have, so that I would not treat myself as a guiding light in the world of darkness. Then I can write freely."[3]

Lee likes to read The Art of War (by Sun Tzu), Song poetry, gossip magazines, dictionaries and her passbook. For her, happiness and freedom are the most important things in her life.[4]

Literary style[edit]

Lee is known for novels depicting romantic relationships and tensions between men and women that are tinged with sadness. She has said they are inspired by personal experience. Lee often adapts elements of early Chinese vernacular literature and the supernatural, to retell a well-known theme or story from an underdog perspective. Her novel Green Snake was based on White Snake, an ancient Chinese novel in which two snakes become humans and learn about love and suffering.[5] This treatment is an evolution from the original story, White Snake, where Green Snake is only a supporting character. Green Snake, the emotional and beautiful Green Snake is the main character, who is in love with Xu Xian.

In Rouge, the main character Fleur, who worked in one of Hong Kong's "flower houses," and comes back to life 50 years later to be reunited with her lover Chan Chen-Pang whom she involved in a double suicide.[6] In Terracotta Warrior, the immortal Mong Tiang Fong wakes up after 2000 years.[7] Golden Lotus in The Reincarnation of Golden Lotus is a spirit.

Lee believes that to make an impression on the reader, good writers must express their emotions.[8] Her goal as a writer is to seek freedom and happiness, not fame. Apart from fictions, she adapted some of her works into screenplays for a wide spectrum of Hong Kong society.


Films adapted from Lee's novels[edit]



  1. ^ a b Lilian Lee Biography. Accessed 5, June 2014.
  2. ^ 言情鬼妹:李碧华. Accessed 17, June 2014.
  3. ^ 百度百科:李碧华. Accessed 17, June 2014.
  4. ^ 对话李碧华:不做奴才文章 最爱“人间烟火”. Accessed 17, June 2014.
  5. ^ Ching Se (1993). Accessed 5, June 2014.
  6. ^ Yin Ji Kau (1987). Accessed 5, June 2014.
  7. ^ Qin Yong(1990). Accessed 9, June 2014.
  8. ^ 互动百科:李碧华. Accessed 17, June 2014.

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