Zuo Fen was born in Linzi prefecture to a family of Confucian scholars. Her mother died young, but her father, Zuo Yong, became an imperial official in charge of the imperial archives. She got a good literary education and often played word games with her brother, Zuo Si, who would become a famous writer as well.
In 272 she went to the palace and became a concubine of Emperor Wu of Jin. There she wrote the Rhapsody of Thoughts on Separation, in which she expressed frustration at being separated from her family and the rest of the world. Her expression of dissatisfaction with life at the palace, which was rare, did not make her lose favour and she was raised to the highest rank of noble concubine.
Zuo Fen died in 300.
- Chang, Saussy and Kwong, p. 30.
- Wu, p. 54.
- Chang, Saussy and Kwong, p. 31.