Tian Han (12 March 1898 – 10 December 1968), born in Changsha, Hunan, and formerly romanized as Tien Han, was a Chinese drama activist, playwright, a leader of revolutionary music and films, as well as a translator and poet. He emerged at the time of the New Culture Movement of the early 20th century and continued to be active until the Cultural Revolution, when he was attacked and died in jail. He is considered by drama historians as one of the three founders of Chinese spoken drama, together with Ouyang Yuqian and Hong Shen. His most famous legacy may be the lyrics he wrote for "The March of the Volunteers" in 1934, which were later adopted as the national anthem of the People's Republic of China.
During the May Fourth Movement in 1919, Tian became famous for the vigorous anti-imperialist and anti-feudalist activities in the circle of artists and intellectuals he gathered.
Tian was educated at University of Tsukuba in Japan. Returning from Japan in 1921, Tian established the Creative Society together with Guo Moruo. The Southern China Society, also headed by Tian, played a leading role in promoting dramatic performances in southern China. In 1927, Tian taught at the Department of Literature of Shanghai Art University. Later, he joined The League of Chinese Left-Wing Dramatists.
Tian used various aliases and pen names including Tián Shòuchāng (田壽昌), Bóhóng (伯鴻), Chén Yú (陳瑜), Shùrén (漱人), and Hànxiān (漢仙).
He was attacked in 1966 on the eve of the Cultural Revolution for his historical play Xie Yaohuan (1961), an attack on Chairman Mao's policies. Criticism of this play, along with two other historical plays (Hai Rui Dismissed from Office by Wu Han and Li Huiniang by Meng Chao), were the opening salvos of the Cultural Revolution. Tian was denounced in a 1 February 1966 People's Daily article entitled "Xie Yaohuan is a Big Poisonous Weed" (田汉的《谢瑶环》是一棵大毒草 Tián Hàn de Xiè Yáohuán Shì yī kē Dà Dúcǎo). The Jiefang Daily called Xie Yaohuan a "political manifesto". Tian was imprisoned as a "counterrevolutionary" in a prison run personally by Kang Sheng and died there in 1968.After the end of the Cultural Revolution, he and Xie Yaohuan were rehabilitated posthumously in 1979.
Although a proponent of western style theater (話劇 huàjù) in China, Tian also produced a number of works with historical themes.
- Kafeidian Yi Ye (A Night in the Coffee Shop) 1922
- Wufan Zhiqian (Before Lunch) 1922
- Huo Hu Zhi Ye (A Night of Capturing the Tiger) 1924
- Suzhou Ye Hua (Night Talk of Suzhou) 1928
- Hu Shang de Beiju (A Tragedy of the Lake) 1928
- Ming You Zhi Si (Death of a Noted Actor) 1929
- Nan Gui 1929
- Mei Yu (Plum Rains) 1932
- Yueguang Qu (Moonlight Melody) 1932
- Luan Zhong 1932
- Yangzi Jiang de Bao Feng Yu (Storm on the Yangtze) 1935
- Hui Chun Zhi Qu (Spring Melody) 1935
- Hong Shui (Flood) 1935
- Lugou Qiao (Lugou Bridge) 1937
- Han Jiang Yu Ge (Fisherman's Song of the Han River) 1939
- Qiu Sheng Fu 1942
- Liren Xing (Women Side by Side)
- Guan Hanqing 1958
- Xiè Yáohuán (謝瑤環) 1961
- Baishe Zhuan (The White Snake) (1958)
- Go to the People 到民间去 (Dao minjian qu) (1927) (unfinished) 
- Three Modern Women (1932)
- Sons and Daughters in a Time of Storm (1935)
- Women Side by Side (1949)
In popular culture
Tian Han was the prototype for the figure of "Kuang Wentao" (played by Bo Gao) in the 1959 biopic Nie Er, which retold the story of the composition of the Chinese National Anthem on the 10th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic. For the 50th anniversary in 1999, he was represented directly in The National Anthem, played by He Zhengjun. His story was also told in The National Anthem, a 27-episode television series, and in the play Torrent (狂流, Kuángliú), produced in Beijing in the year 2000.
- Chen 2014, p. 5.
- "Tian Han". Encyclopædia Britannica Online (Accessed 16 Feb. 2015) 
- Wagner 1990, p. 80.
- Wagner 1990, p. 137.
- Wagner 1990, pp. 82-83.
- Wagner 1990, p. 82.
- "Go to the People (1927): Tian Han and the Southern Film Society,"  The Chinese Mirror (accessed February 16, 2015).
- Wagner 1990, p. 87.
- Wang Zhuoyi. Revolutionary Cycles in Chinese Cinema, 1951–1979, pp. 140 f. St Martin's Press (New York), 2014.
References and further reading
- Chen, Xiaomei (2014). The Columbia Anthology of Modern Chinese Drama. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 9780231165020. Includes translations of plays, background on Tian and modern drama.
- Huang, Xuelei (2014). Shanghai Filmmaking: Crossing Borders, Connecting to the Globe, 1922-1938. Leiden: Brill. ISBN 9789004279339., esp. pp. 91-92, 115-127.
- Luo, Liang (2014). The Avant-Garde and the Popular in Modern China: Tian Han and the Intersection of Performance and Politics. ISBN 9780472072170.
- Wagner, Rudolf G. (1990). The Contemporary Chinese Historical Drama: Four Studies. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-05954-2.
Liang Luo, "From Lovers to Volunteers: Tian Han and the National Anthem," China Beat (July 16, 2008).