Zhou Shoujuan 周瘦鹃 (1895-1968) (sometimes credited as Eric Chow) was an author, screenwriter and translator, and while his personal filmography was short, he still contributed much to the early development of Chinese cinema, mostly as a mentor to young, aspiring writers. He was born Zhou Guoxian 周国贤 on June 30, 1895 in Suzhou City, Jiangsu. He lost his father at the age of 6, but his widowed mother was determined to get her son an education, and through years of hard work as a seamstress was able to get him into good schools in Shanghai. He began writing seriously in secondary school, but still found time to devote considerable effort to gardening, his other love. This culminated in the opening of the famous "Zhou Garden," a draw for Suzhou residents and tourists alike. In later, postwar years, the garden drew many famous visitors, including Zhou Enlai, Chen Yi, and other top political figures, who often escorted foreign guests to visit and enjoy the site. Meanwhile, Zhou proved to be an outstanding student, and after graduation from secondary school was hired by the school as a teacher. He published his first novel, Flowers of Love, in the magazine Novel Monthly at the age of 17, and after adaptation for the stage, it was presented at several theaters, becoming a hit. In 1916, he was appointed an editor at the publisher China Bookstore. In 1917, he translated and published Anthology of Famous European and American Short Stories, a 3-volume set. In 1920 he was named editor-in-chief of Shen Bao, the leading Shanghai newspaper, and concurrently assistant editor of its magazine supplement "Talking Freely." He later started his own magazine, titled The Semi Monthly. In 1921 he became editor-in-chief of Saturday, a magazine devoted at first to publishing stories in the "Mandarin Ducks and Butterflies" school, then later to articles on movies and short stories with movie settings. During its long run, Saturday published more than 100 such articles and stories, indicative of cinema's popularity. In 1926 he joined the Da Zhonghua Baihe Film Company as an editor and screenwriter. During the War of Resistance, Zhou Shoujuan published numerous anti-Japanese short stories with titles such as "The Siege of Nanjing," "Diary of the Conquered," and "Diary of a Traitorous Slave."
In retirement, he devoted himself to gardening and editing a collection of his writings. He was also summoned into politics, appointed a member of the Communist Party Central Committee, representing his home city of Suzhou. But it all ended disastrously during the chaotic, murderous decade of China's "Cultural Revolution," when Zhou Shoujuan, like so many others in China's artistic community, was relentlessly persecuted by Red Guards, ending in his death in August, 1968. The details are not recorded. As a further sad footnote, in a city renowned for its beautiful gardens, the "Zhou Garden" in Suzhou was invaded, trampled and destroyed by Red Guards, denying this restful sanctuary to so many who came after its creator.
Filmography (screenwriter, unless noted otherwise):
Pleasures of the Dance Hall (stage management)
One Night of Luxury (co-writer)
Baidu entry (in Chinese)
Chen, Jianhua (Hong Kong Univ. of Science and Technology). "A scholar in film--Zhou Shoujuan and early Chinese film." Film Art 2012-01. (in Chinese)
"Zhou Shoujuan" in: Zhongguo Dianying Da Zidian (China Cinema Encyclopaedia). Shanghai, 1995. p.1382.