Ovidia Yu

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Ovidia Yu (born 1961) is a writer from Singapore who has published award-winning plays and short stories. She has won several awards, including the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry Singapore Foundation Culture Award (1996), the National Arts Council (NAC) Young Artist Award (1996) and the Singapore Youth Award (1997).[1] She has had more than thirty of her plays produced and is considered one of the most well-known writers in Singapore, according to HarperCollins Publishers.[2]

Early life[edit]

Yu was born in 1961 to a middle-class family in Singapore. Her father was a doctor and her mother was a teacher. She attended Methodist Girls' School, where her mother taught, and developed a love for reading and writing at an early age. She became particularly interested in the characters that she read about and would continue their stories in her own 'sequels' to the books. She was writing her own short stories by the time she was ten years old.[1]

Despite her interest in liberal arts, she was pressured into becoming a doctor by her parents and friends at school. She originally attended the National University of Singapore in pursuit of a medical degree, but soon dropped out of medical school when she realised it was not the path she wanted to take. After dropping out of medical school, Yu went on to pursue literature instead. She received a master's degree and later obtained a PhD from Cambridge University. Before becoming a writer, she had earned a living by writing scripts for corporate training videos and writing manuals for machinery.[3]

Personal life[edit]

Ovidia Yu is openly gay and uses her experiences with her sexual orientation to fuel some of her writing. These experiences were exhibited in her play Hitting (on) Women, which has been noted as one of the first plays she has written that really explored that aspect of her life. She lives in Singapore, where she continues to write and publish novels and plays.[4] Yu also suffers from epilepsy and as a result takes many notes around with her to counter memory lapses. These notes are also used for writing, as she gets many of her ideas for stories and plays by observing people in their everyday lives.[1] When she is not writing, she mentions that she practices yoga daily and volunteers at the ASPCA weekly.[5]


Ovidia Yu is known for using humour and unique characters throughout her writing to explore changing roles and identities throughout society, especially for women. She is considered one of Singapore's first feminist writers and continues to write thought-provoking plays and novels.[3]

Yu has mentioned that she enjoys writing about strong female characters. She believes that writing these strong characters as female will communicate her message across cultures and nationalities.[5]


Her plays include:[1]

  • 1987 : Dead on Cue
  • 1988 : Round and Round the Dining Table
  • 1988 : Face Values
  • 1989 : Family Affairs
  • 1990 : Mistress
  • 1990 : Cupboards
  • 1991 : Imagine
  • 1991 : Ja
  • 1992 : Three Fat Virgins
  • 1992 : Wife and Mother
  • 1993 : Be the Food of Love
  • 1994 : Six Lonely Oysters
  • 1995 : Three Fat Virgins Unassembled
  • 1995 : The Land of a Thousand Dreams
  • 1995 : Hokkien Mee
  • 1996 : Playing Mothers
  • 1996 : Every Day Brings its Miracles
  • 1997 : Breast Issues
  • 1999 : Viva Viagra
  • 1999 : Life Choices
  • 1999 : Haunted
  • 2001 : Love Bytes
  • 2002 : Love Bytes II (Love in a time of recession and newater)
  • 2007 : Hitting (on) Women
  • 2011 : Eight Plays


Her works of fiction include:[1]

  • 1989 : Miss Moorthy Investigates
  • 1990 : Mistress and Other Creative Takeoffs
  • 1993 : The Mouse Marathon
  • 2012 : The Mudskipper
  • 2013 : Aunty Lee's Delights: A Singaporean Mystery
  • 2014 : Aunty Lee's Deadly Specials: A Singaporean Mystery
  • 2016 : Aunty Lee's Chilled Revenge: A Singaporean Mystery
  • 2017 : Meddling and Murder: An Aunty Lee Mystery
  • 2017 : The Frangipani Tree Mystery


Her works of non-fiction include:[1]

  • 1990 : Guiding in Singapore: A Chronology of Guide Events 1917–1990


She has received the following awards:[1]

  • 1984 : First prize, Asiaweek Short Story Competition, for A Dream of China.
  • 1985 : Second prize, Ministry of Community Development Short Story Competition
  • 1993 : Scotsman Fringe First Award, Edinburgh Fringe Festival for The Woman in a Tree on a Hill
  • 1994 : Highly Commended, National Book Council Development of Singapore (NBDCS) Drama
  • 1996 : Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) Singapore Foundation Award for outstanding contribution to the development of arts
  • 1996 : National Arts Council (NAC) Young Artist Award for Drama and Fiction
  • 1997 : Singapore Youth Award (Arts and Culture)


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Ovidia Yu." Singapore Infopaedia. National Library Board Singapore, 1 January 2004. Web. 30 September 2014.
  2. ^ "Ovidia Yu." HarperCollins Publishers. HarperCollins US. Web. 30 September 2014.
  3. ^ a b "Singapore Writer Ovidia Yu Inks a New Life." The Straits Times Communities. 7 October 2013. Web. 30 September 2014.
  4. ^ Yi-Sheng, Ng. "Hitting on Ovidia Yu." Fridae. 8 August 2007. Web. 30 September 2014.
  5. ^ a b Yi-Sheng, Ng. "Hitting on Ovidia Yu."

External links[edit]