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Chinese women in history - soldiers, pirates, scholars, sages and rulers

Liu Lingxian - poetic genius

Liu Lingxian was one of the great writers from the North/South Dynasties era.1 She lived during southern Liang Dynasty (502-557) in an area that is now present day Jiangsu.2 Her older brother Liu Xiaochuo was a child prodigy who grew up to be a noted poet, and Lingxian is said to match him in talent. Some even say that she surpassed him. Lingxian was a master of the rhyming couplet - a traditional contest in which one poet composes a stanza, and another poet has to compose a rhyming reply in the spot.3

Lingxian married another well-known poet Xu Fei, and the couple often gifted each other with compositions.4 When Xu Fei died, Liu penned the famous Ji Fu Wen in mourning for Xu Fei. Her father-in-law initially wanted to compose his own poem in memory of his son, but after reading Liu's work, he put his pen away.5


  1. Writers from the North-South Dynasties (Chinese article)
  2. Writers from the North-South Dynasties (Chinese article)
  3. The Liu Xiaochuo siblings and their rhyming couplet (Chinese article)
    Female masters of the rhyming couplet (Chinese article)
  4. Xue Fei (Chinese article)
    10 Great Female Literary Talents from Old China (Chinese article)
  5. Writers from the North-South Dynasties (Chinese article)