Editor inspired new wave of martial arts fiction

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 January, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 January, 2012, 12:00am


Fans of martial arts novels might have missed out on the masterpieces of Louis Cha Leung-yung and Liang Yusheng if it weren't for Lo Fu.

In 1954, a boxing match between two martial arts masters in Macau became the talk of the Portuguese enclave and nearby Hong Kong. Lo Fu, then chief editor of the New Evening Post, urged Chen Wentong, one of the paper's editors, to write a martial arts novel for serialisation in the newspaper.

Chen's novel, written under the pen name of Liang Yusheng, became a huge success, and Chen is now credited as the pioneer of the 'new school' of the martial arts novels in the 20th century.

Lo also encouraged Cha, who joined New Evening Post in 1952 as an editor of the literary supplement, to write his first martial arts novel, The Book and the Sword. The novel, serialised in 1955, boosted newspaper sales tremendously.

Cha's novels, written under the pen name of Jin Yong, have sold millions and dominated the best-seller lists in the Chinese markets for years. Cha, who founded the newspaper Ming Pao in 1959, stopped writing kung fu fiction in 1972 after finishing The Deer and the Cauldron.

These weren't Lo's only contributions to literature. In the 1960s he serialised From Emperor to Citizen: The Autobiography of Aisin-Gioro Pu Yi, the memoir of last emperor Pu Yi, in the New Evening Post. Lo also held several interviews with Pu Yi in Beijing at the time.

The decision to serialise the memoir in the New Evening Post was made by Liao Chengzhi, who was in charge of Hong Kong and Macau affairs at the time, in an attempt to boost sales of the pro-Beijing newspaper. Liao, later the founding director of the State Council's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office in 1978, was the father of Liao Hui, who held the post until 2010.

In the early 1960s, the New Evening Post also serialised the memoirs of writer Zhou Zuoren. Zhou was the younger brother of Lu Xun , who was regarded as one of modern China's greatest writers.