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Guo Moruo
Guo Moruo ( , courtesy name Dǐng Táng 鼎堂) (November 16, 1892 - June 12, 1978) was a Chinesemarker author, poet, historian, archaeologist, and government official from Sichuanmarker, China.


Family history

Guo Moruo, originally named Guo Kaizhen, was born on November 10 or 16 (he was not sure himself),in the small town of Shawan (沙湾, 'Sandy Cove') (now, part of the "prefecture-level city" of Leshanmarker) in China's Sichuanmarker province. Shawan is located on the Dadu River some 40 km southwest from what was then called the city of Jiading (Chia-ting, 嘉定路), and now is the "central urban area" of the "prefecture-level city" of Leshan.

At the time of Guo's birth, Shawan was a town of some 180 families.

Guo Moruo's father's ancestors were Hakkas from Ninghua Countymarker (xian) in Tingzhou fu, near the western border of Fujianmarker. They moved to Sichuan in the second half of the 17th century, after Sichuan had lost much of its population to the rebels/bandits of Zhang Xianzhong (ca. 1605-1647). According to family legend, the only possessions that Guo's ancestors brought to Sichuan were things they could carry on their backs. Guo Moruo's great-grandfather, Guo Xianlin, was the first in the family to achieve a degree of prosperity. Guo Xianlin's sons established the Guo clan as the leaders of the local river shipping business, and thus important people in that entire region of Sichuan. It was only then that the Guo clan members became able to send their children to school.

Guo Moruo's father, one of whose names may possibly have been Guo Mingxing (1854-1939), had to drop out of school at the age of 13, spent half a year as an apprentice at a salt well, and then entered his father's business. A shrewd and smart man who also achieved some local renown as a Chinese medical doctor, he traded successfully in oils, opium, liquor, and grain, and operated a money changing business. His business success allowed him to increase the family's real estate and salt well holdings.

Guo Moruo's mother, in contrast, came from a scholar-official background. She was a daughter of Du Zhouzhang (Tu Cho-chang), a holder of the coveted jinshi (chin-shih) degree. While serving as an acting magistrate in Huangping prefecture , (in eastern Guizhoumarker), Du died heroically in 1858 while fighting Miao rebels, when his daughter (the future mother of Guo Moruo) was less than a year old. She married into the Guo family in 1872, when she was just 14.


Guo Moruo - originally known under his birth name, Guo Kaizhen (Kuo K'ai-chen) - was the 8th child of his mother. Three of his siblings had died before he was born, but more children were born later, so by the time he went to school, he had 7 siblings.

Guo also had the childhood name Guo Wenbao ('Cultivated Leopard'), given due to a dream his mother had on the night he was conceived.

A few years before Guo Moruo was born, his parents retained a private tutor, Shen Huanzhang, to provide education for their children, in the hope of them later passing civil service examinations. A precocious child, Guo Moruo started studying at this "family school" in the spring of 1897, at the early age of four and half. Initially, the study was based on Chinese classics, but with the government education reforms of 1901, mathematics and other modern subjects started to be introduced.

When in the fall of 1903 a number of public schools were established in Sichuan's capital, Chengdumarker, Guo children started going there to study. Guo Moruo's oldest brother, Guo Kaiwen (1877-1936), entered one of them, Dongwen Xuetang, a secondary school preparing students for study in Japan; the next oldest brother, Guo Kaizou (K'ai-tso), joined Wubei Xuetang, a military school. Guo Kaiwen soon became instrumental in exposing his brother and sisters still in Shawan to modern books and magazines that allowed them to learn about the wide world outside.

Guo Kaiwen continued to be a role model for his younger brothers when in February 1905 he left for Japan, to study law and administration in Tokyo Imperial University on a provincial government's scholarship.

After passing competitive examinations, in early 1906 Guo Moruo started attending the new upper-level primary school (gaodeng xiao xue) in Jiadingmarker. It was a boarding school, located in a former Buddhist temple, and the boy lived on premises. He continued to a middle school in 1907, acquiring by this time the reputation of an academically gifted student but a troublemaker. His peers respected him and often elected him a delegate to represent their interests in front of the school administration. Often spearheading student-faculty conflicts, he was expelled and reinstated a few times, and finally expelled for good in October 1909.

Young Guo was, in a sense, glad to be expelled, as he now had a reason to go to the provincial capital Chengdumarker to continue his education there.

In October 1911, Guo was surprised by his mother announcing that a marriage was arranged for him. He went along with his family's wishes, marrying his appointed bride, Zhang Jinghua, sight-unseen in Shawan in March 1912. Immediately, he regretted this marriage, and five days after the marriage, he left his ancestral home and returned to Chengdu, leaving his wife behind. He never formally divorced her, but apparently never lived with her either.

Study Abroad

Following his elder brothers, Guo Moruo left China in December 1913, reaching Japan in early January 1914.After a year of preparatory study in Tokyo, he entered Sixth Higher School in Okayama.When visiting a friend of his hospitalized in Sain Luke's Hospital in Tokyo, in the summer of 1916, Guo fell in love with Sato Tomiko, a Japanese woman from a Christian family, who worked at the hospital as a student nurse. Sato Tomiko would become his common-law wife. They were to stay together for 20 years, until the outbreak of the war, and to have five children together.

After graduation from the Okayama school, Guo entered in 1918 theMedical School of Kyushyu Imperial University (九州帝国大学) in Fukuoka. He was more interested in literature than medicine, however. His studies at this time focused on foreign language and literature, namely that of: Spinoza, Goethe, Walt Whitman, and the Bengali poet Tagore. Along with numerous translations, he published his first poem anthology, titled The Goddesses (女神 - nǚ shén) (1921). He co-founded the Ch'uang-tsao she ("Creation Society") in Shanghai, which promoted modern and vernacular literature.

The war years

He joined the Communist Party of China in 1927. He was involved in the Communist Nanchang Uprising and fled to Japan after its failure. He stayed there for 10 years studying Chinese ancient history. During that time he published his work on inscriptions on oracle bones and bronze vessels, Liang Chou chin wen tz'u ta hsi t'u lu k'ao shih (Pinyin: “Liangzhou jinwenci daxi tulu kaoshi”) (1935 “Corpus of Inscriptions on Bronzes from the Two Zhou Dynasties”). In this work, he attempted to demonstrate, according to the Communist doctrine, the “slave society” nature of ancient China. His theory on the "slave society of China" remains highly controversial, although it was praised by Mao and the party.

In the summer of 1937, soon after the Marco Polo Bridgemarker incident, Guo returned to China to join the anti-Japanese resistance. His attempt to arrange for Sato Tomiko and their children to join him in China were frustrated by the Japanese authorities,, and in1939 he remarried to Yu Liqun (于立群; 1916-1979), a Shanghai actress. After the war, Sato went to reunite with him but was disappointed to know that he had already formed a new family.

A communist leader

Along with holding important government offices in the People's Republic of Chinamarker, he was a prolific writer, not just of poetry but also fiction, plays, autobiographies, translations, and historical and philosophical treatises. He was the first President of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and remained so from its founding in 1949 until his death in 1978. He was also the first president of University of Science & Technology of China (USTC), a new type of university established by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) after the founding of the People's Republic of China and aimed at fostering high-level personnel of science and technology.

In 1966 he was one of the first to be attacked in the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. He confessed that he had not properly understood the thought of Mao Zedong, and agreed that his works should be burned. However, this was not enough to protect his family. Two of his sons, Guo Minying and Guo Shiying, committed suicide in 1967 and 1968 following "criticism" or persecution by Red Guards. - Portraits of China's historical figures (This article contains portraits of a number of people who participated in the Cultural Revolution - as actors or as victims - painted by Xu Weixin, and biographical comments).

Unlike the others similarly attacked, Guo Moruo's was spared as he was chosen by Mao as "the representative of the rightwing" in the 9th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in 1969. He regained much of his influence by the seventies.

Guo Moruo was awarded the Stalin Peace Prize (1951), later renamed for Lenin as part of De-Stalinization.


Guo Moruo had five children (four sons and a daughter) with Sato Tomiko and six with Yu Liqun (four sons and a daughter). An article published in the 2000s said that eight out of the eleven were alive, and three have died.

With Sato Tomiko (listed chronologically in the order of birth):
  • son Guo Hefu (郭和夫) (December 12 (or 31, according to other sources) 1917, Okayama - September 13, 1994). A chemist, he moved from Japan to Taiwan in 1946 and to mainland China to 1949. He was the founder of the Institute of Chemical Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. 长子郭和夫 ("Guo Hefu - the eldest son"), and following chapters, from the book "现代名人的后代" (Xiandai Mingrende Houdai, "The heirs of the famous people of our times") by 吴东平 (Wu Dongping). Hubei People's Press, 2006. ISBN 7216044762.
  • son Guo Bo (郭博) (born 1920), a renowned architect and photographed. He came to China in 1955, invited by his father, and worked in Shanghai, where he participated in the design of many of its famous modern buildings. Guo Bu is also known as a photographer of Shanghai's heritage architecture; an album of his photographic work has been published as a book.
  • son Guo Fusheng (郭福生).
  • daughter Guo Shuyu (郭淑禹), a Japanese-language teacher, now deceased.
  • son Guo Zhihong (郭志宏).

With Yu Liqun (listed chronologically in the order of birth):
  • son Guo Hanying (郭汉英) (born 1941, Chongqing). An internationally published theoretical physicist.
  • daughter Guo Shuying (郭庶英). She published a book about her father.
  • son Guo Shiying (郭世英) (1942 - April 22, 1968). In 1962, while a philosophy student at Beijing Universitymarker, created an "underground" "X Poetry Society"; in the summer of 1963, the society was exposed deemed subversive, and Guo Shiying was sentenced to re-eductaion through labor. While working at a farm in Henanmarker province, he developed interest in agriculture. Returned to Beijing in 1965 and enrolled into Beijing Agricultural University. In 1968, kidnapped by the Red Guards and "tried" by their "court" for his poetry-society activity years ago. Jumped out of the window of the third-floor room where he was kept, and died. at the age of 26. His father in his later writing expressed regret for encouraging him to return to Beijing from the farm, thinking that it indirectly lead to his death.
  • son Guo Minying (郭民英), (November 1943, Chongqing - April 12, 1967). His death is described as an unexpected suicide.
  • daughter Guo Pingying (郭平英)
  • son Guo Jianying (郭建英) (born 1953).


  • Guo Moruo's residence in Beijing,near Shicha Lake (Shichahaimarker), where he lived after his war with his second (or third, if the arranged marriage is to be counted) wife, Yu Liqun, is preserved as a museum.
  • Guo Moruo and Sato Tomiko's house in Ichikawa, Japan, where they lived in 1927-37, is a museum as well. Due to the Guo Moruo connection, Ichikawa chose to establish sister city relations with Leshanmarker in 1981.


  • Encyclopædia Britannica 2005 Ultimate Reference Suite DVD, article- "Guo Moruo"
  • Guo Moruo (

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