Ai Xia

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Ai Xia
Ai Xia (headshot).jpg
Background information
Chinese name 艾霞
Born Yan Yinan
(1912-11-29)29 November 1912
Tianjin, China
Died 15 February 1934(1934-02-15) (aged 21)
Shanghai, China
Years active 1932–1934
Ancestry Xiamen, Fujian, China

Ai Xia (Chinese: 艾霞; 29 November 1912 – 15 February 1934) was a Chinese left-wing silent film actress and screenwriter. She committed suicide in 1934, the first Chinese actor to have done so. Her suicide inspired Cai Chusheng's classic film New Women starring Ruan Lingyu, who also killed herself soon after the release of the film.

Life and career

Ai Xia was born Yan Yinan (Chinese: 严以南) on November 29, 1912 in Tianjin[1] to a large middle-class family. She attended university.[2] After graduating, she fell in love with her cousin and had a child. Her family disapproved of the relationship, resulting in her lover leaving.[3] In 1928, she was in an arranged marriage but, as a personal protest, left home for Shanghai to pursue a career in film.[4][5]

Ai Xia started her career as a stage actor with the South China Theater Society (Nanguo jushe), founded by Tian Han, before joining the Leftists Dramatists League (Zuoyi juzuojia lianmeng). She was introduced to Mingxing (Star) Film Company in 1932.[6] She wrote a book Xiandai yi Nüxing (A Woman of Today) in 1933. The book was adapted as a film in the same year. Despite the intrigue around the story, the film was not well received by critics because of its focus on revolution.[5] Ai Xia was one of only two female screenwriters during the "Left-Wing" movement in Chinese film.[7] She starred in a total of eight films in her lifetime.

Death and legacy

Ai Xia

Ai committed suicide in 1934 by consuming raw opium.[3] Being the first actress in the Republic of China to do so, her death is considered iconic in Chinese film.[8][5][2]

The film New Women is based on her life. It stars actress Ruan Lingyu who also committed suicide shortly after the film's release in 1935. It is speculated that director Cai Chusheng may have been romantically involved with Ai and thus, made the film for personal reasons.[9][7]



  • A Woman of Today (现代一女性, 1933) ISBN 978-7511006271

See also


  1. ^ Zhang, Junxiang; Cheng, Jihua, eds. (1995). 中国电影大辞典 [China Cinema Encyclopaedia] (in Chinese). Shanghai: 辞书出版社. p. 8. ISBN 7-5326-0326-1.
  2. ^ a b Ma, Yuxin (2010). Women Journalists and Feminism in China, 1898–1937. Amherst, NY: Cambria Press. p. 289. ISBN 978-1-60497-660-1.
  3. ^ a b Kuoshu, Harry (2002). Celluloid China: Cinematic Encounters with Culture and Society (1st ed.). Southern Illinois University Press: Carbondale. pp. 127–128. ISBN 9780809324552.
  4. ^ "艾霞 Xia Ai". Douban. Retrieved 28 November 2015.
  5. ^ a b c Colet, Cristina (2015). "Three Chinese female screenwriters: Ai Xia, Zhang Ailing, and Peng Xiaolian". Women Screenwriters: An International Guide. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-1-137-31238-9.
  6. ^ Wang, Yiman (2011). Wang, Lingzhen, ed. Chinese Women's Cinema: Transnational Contexts. New York: Columbia University Press. p. 238. ISBN 978-0-231-52744-6.
  7. ^ a b Pang, Laikwan (2002). Building a New China in Cinema: The Chinese Left-wing Cinema Movement, 1932–1937. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. pp. 121, 123. ISBN 9780742509450.
  8. ^ "现代一女性". Douban. Retrieved 28 November 2015.
  9. ^ Farquhar, Mary; Zhang, Yingjin (2010). Chinese Film Stars. London; New York: Routledge,. pp. 36–37. ISBN 9780415573900.

External links

  • Ai Xia on IMDb
  • Ai Xia at the Chinese Movie Database
  • A Woman of Today in the Worldcat catalog.
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