“Ah – I regret to say I was a completely rebellious child,” Xie Bingying. A Woman Soldier. China 1926


Xie Bingying, Nationalist Army, China 1926

Xie Bingying was a writer, who, once celebrated, was shut out of the homeland she loved, and suffered greatly for.

Born into a small village in China 1906, Xie, was the youngest of five siblings. Her three brothers and only sister were older by almost a decade.  From the moment she was born, her father held her on his chest and he read poetry out loud. She was Precious to her mother.

At an early age Xie had her own idea about how she wanted to be in world – a person with rights.

Her mother tried to beat this useless idea out of her. Yet she held off on Xie’s foot binding until she was eight years old.


“Mama, I do not want my feet bound.”

“It is because I love you that I bind your feet…”

Her mother believed being a woman was being wife, to serve her husband’s family, make sacrifices to the alter of the gods, to give birth to more sons. Confucius said. And to be a wife, Xie’s feet must be bound.

Xie’s father was born to a farmer, but his passion for books led him to be a Scholar, the most respected position in Chinese society. She, too, loved to read, and eventually demanded to go to school, even though the only one in the area was all boys. Xie’s mother had mixed responses to this declaration, and eventually cried out:

“What! A girl thinking about study? Really, then heaven and earth are turning topsy-turvy…”

Xie went on a hunger strike to get her way. She was twelve years old.

The year was 1918. One year later the May Fourth Movement would begin.

ImageFrom the front lines of the Nationalist Northern Expedition, Xie sent letters to a newspaper in Shanghai. The collection, War Dairy, was published in 1928. She published many writings over her long and varied career.

A Women Soldier’s Own Story is the most famous of all her work. She began writing this autobiography when she was in her thirties, and finished it many years later.

Xie, Bingying. A Women Soldier's Own Story: Translated by Lily Chia Brissman & Barry Brissman. New York, NY: Berkley Publishing Group, 2001 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xie_Bingying






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Filed under China, May Fourth Movement, Women, Writers

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