Ting Ling was born in 1904 in Lingli, Hunan. Her father died when she was very young, and her mother, inspired by the revolutionary ideas of Sun Yat-sen, sent her daughter to Shanghai to a girls' school run by the Communists. In 1924, Ting Ling moved in with a young writer, Hu Yeh-pin, and later they were joined by Shen Ts'ung-wen, forming a menage a trois. In 1928, she shocked literary circles with the publication of "Miss Sophie's Diary", which revealed the private thoughts of its female protagonists, including their frank admissions of sexual desires. After her common-law husband Hu Yeh-pin was executed by the Nationalists in 1931, Ting Ling became increasingly radical; she joined the Communist party the following year. She herself then suffered three years of imprisonment by the KMT (Kuomintang) for her political activism, but she eventually made her way to the Communist base in Yenan, where her outspoken criticism of bureaucratic attitudes and male chauvinism brought her into direct conflict with Mao Tse-tung. In 1948, Ting Ling wrote her novel "The Sun Shines Over the Sangkan River", about the struggle for land reform, which won her the Stalin Prize for Literature in 1951. She had been directly engaged in land reform from 1946 to 1947, and the work reflects her own firsthand experience. It is written in a bold, unadorned revolutionary style. Her dedication was rewarded with chief editorship of the Literary Gazette, the party's organ of literary politics. Ting Ling was denounced in 1955 for her "bourgeois attitudes" and exiled to the northern wastes for 20 years of labor reform. She was finally rehabilitated in the 1970's and proceeded to anger young writers by admonishing them "not to complain so much." Much of Ting Ling's fiction is admittedly not first-rate, and she has probably received as much notoriety for her flamboyant life as for her literary accomplishments. She has little ear for dialogue and finds it difficult to get into the minds of characters whose backgrounds differ too much from her own. Nevertheless, her work has historical importance, and in recent years has been increasingly studied by feminist scholars outside China.