Lao She (老舍) was a writer and a pioneer of new literature in China. He was of Manchu ethnic group. Originally named Shu Qingchun, Lao She was born in Beijing on February 3, 1899. His father died on the battlefield serving the Manchu army when the allied forces of eight countries attacked Beijing. His mother, also Manchu, supported the family by washing clothes for others. Lao She graduated from the Beijing Normal School with excellence in the summer of 1918, and was offered the position of principal at Beijing No. 17 Elementary School.
In 1924, he was invited to teach Chinese at the Oriental School of London University. It was during this time abroad that he began to write. In July 1926, the publishing of his first novel, Lao Zhang’s Philosophy, in Novel Monthly created a sensation in the literary world. Subsequently, two of his other novels, Zhao Ziyue and Er Ma, were published, establishing his credentials as a pioneer of new literature in China.
After he returned to China in 1930, as a professor Lao She taught at Qilu University and Shandong University. During this period he wrote such novels like The Story of Cat City, Divorce, Camel Xiang Zi, and medium-length novels such as Crescent Moon, My Whole Life, and short novels, including Wei Shen. He began his million-character monumental novel Four Generations under One Roof in 1944.
Due to humiliations suffered during the “Cultural Revolution,” Lao She committed suicide in 1966.