Hong Shen (Chinese: 洪深) was born on December 31, 1894 in Changzhou, Jiangsu Province. He was also known as Hong Da, Hong Bojun, Hong Qianzhai, and Qian Zai. He was an amateur actor during his school days. In 1913, he published the short story “Narrow Escape” and two years later the play A Pear Seller. He went to study pottery in the United States after his graduation from Tsinghua University in 1916, but he eventually studied literature and drama at Harvard University.
Back to China in 1922, he taught at Fudan University and meanwhile devoted part of his time to drama and motion pictures. His play Yama Chao appeared in the same year and made a name for him as a playwright because of its striking opposition to feudalism and the civil war waged by the warlords. In 1924, he created a sensation among the dramatic circles of Shanghai by adapting and directing Lady Windermere's Fan by Oscar Wilde (1854-1900). Hong’s production, it is believed, paved the way for modern Chinese dramatic presentations. From 1923 to 1930, he joined such literary groups as the Theatrical Association of China, the Southern Country Society, the China League of Left-Wing Writers and the League of Left-Wing Dramatists and Stage workers, and also acted as head of the Fudan Dramatic Troupe and headmaster of China Motion Picture School. His two plays, The Young Master Feng and Peach Blossoms after a Thunderstorm, accurately reflect Chinese society at that time.
His trilogy of rural life – The Wukui Bridge, The Sweet Rice, and The Blue Dragon Pool – bitterly denounces the feudalism rampant in the villages and was much talked of during the 1930s. by then, he had also con-established the semi-monthly Brightness with Xia Yan.
When the Anti-Japanese War broke out in 1937, he quit the school in order to organize theatrical troupes for the cause of national salvation. His work touched off a drive to produce stage plays all over the Kuomintang governed areas, and as a result, many promising actors and actresses emerged. He also wrote several excellent plays.
After the war, he went back to Shanghai, where he taught at Fudan University and Shanghai Conservatory while editing the weekly, Play and Film. But he was charged with having supported the student movement and was dismissed in 1947. he arrived in the northeast China liberated area at the end of 1948 via Xiamen and Hong Kong.
Hong was elected a delegate to the National People's Congress after the founding of the People’s Republic of China as well as vice-chairman of the Chinese Dramatists' Association. As a renowned playwright, he devoted his whole life to the development of modern drama in China. He died on August 29, 1955.
His main works include Yama Chao (1923), The Wukui Bridge (1932), The Sweet Rice (1933), and Peach Blossoms after a Thunderstorm (1934).