Jin Yong

Not to be confused with Jim Yong Kim.
The Honourable Dr.
Louis Cha

Cha in July 2007
Born (1924-02-06) 6 February 1924
Haining City, Zhejiang Province, China
Pen name Jin Yong
Occupation Novelist, essayist
Nationality Chinese
Alma mater Soochow University
University of Cambridge[1]
Peking University
Period 1955–1972
Genre Wuxia
  • Du Zhifen (杜治芬; m. 1948–?)
  • Zhu Mei (朱玫; m. 1953–1976)
  • Lin Leyi (林樂怡; m. 1976–present)
Children two sons and two daughters (three living)
Zha Liangyong (birth name)
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese 查良鏞
Simplified Chinese 查良镛
Jin Yong (pen name)
Chinese 金庸
Vietnamese name
Vietnamese Tra Lương Dung / Kim Dung
Thai name
Thai จาเลี้ยงย้ง / กิมย้ง
Korean name
Hangul 사량용 / 김용
Pen name is created by splitting last character of given name

Louis Cha Leung-yung, GBM, OBE (born 6 February 1924), better known by his pen name Jin Yong, is a Chinese novelist and essayist based in Hong Kong. Having co-founded the Hong Kong daily Ming Pao in 1959, he was the newspaper's first editor-in-chief.

Cha's fiction, which is of the wuxia ("martial arts and chivalry") genre, has a widespread following in Chinese-speaking areas, including Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, Southeast Asia, and the United States. His 15 works written between 1955 and 1972 earned him a reputation as one of the finest wuxia writers ever. He is currently the best-selling Chinese author alive; over 100 million copies of his works have been sold worldwide[2] (not including unknown numbers of bootleg copies).[3]

Cha's works have been translated into English, French, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai, Burmese, Malay and Indonesian. He has many fans abroad as well, owing to the numerous adaptations of his works into films, television series, manhua (comics) and video games.

Asteroid 10930 Jinyong (1998 CR2) is named after him.[4]

Cha was named along with Gu Long and Liang Yusheng as the "Three Legs of the Tripod of Wuxia".


Cha was born in Haining City, Zhejiang Province in Republican China as the second of six children from the scholarly Zha family of Haining (海寧查氏). His ancestral home, however, was in Wuyuan County, Shangrao City, Jiangxi Province. He is purportedly a descendant of Zha Jizuo (1601–1676), a scholar who lived in the late Ming dynasty and early Qing dynasty.[5] His grandfather, Zha Wenqing (查文清), obtained the position of a tong jinshi chushen (third class graduate) in the imperial examination during the Qing dynasty. His father, Zha Shuqing (查樞卿), was accused of being a counterrevolutionary, and was arrested and executed by the Communist government during the Campaign to Suppress Counterrevolutionaries in the early 1950s.

Cha was an avid reader of literature from an early age, especially wuxia and classical fiction. He was once expelled from his high school for openly criticising the Nationalist government as autocratic. He studied at Hangzhou High School in 1937 but was dismissed in 1941. He studied in Jiaxing No. 1 High School and later was admitted to the Faculty of Foreign Languages of the Central School of Political Affairs in Chongqing Municipality.[6] Cha later dropped out of the school. He took the entrance exam and gained admission to the Faculty of Law at Soochow University, where he majored in international law with the intention of pursuing a career in the foreign service.

When Cha was transferred to Hsin Wan Pao as Deputy Editor, he met Chen Wentong, who wrote his first wuxia novel under the pseudonym "Liang Yusheng" in 1953. Chen and Cha became good friends and it was under the former's influence that Cha began work on his first serialised martial arts novel, The Book and the Sword, in 1955. In 1957, while still working on wuxia serialisations, he quit his previous job and worked as a scenarist-director and scriptwriter at Great Wall Movie Enterprises Ltd and Phoenix Film Company.

In 1959, Cha co-founded the Hong Kong newspaper Ming Pao with his high school classmate Shen Baoxin (沈寶新). Cha served as its editor-in-chief for years, writing both serialised novels and editorials, amounting to some 10,000 Chinese characters per day. His novels also earned him a large readership. Cha completed his last wuxia novel in 1972, after which he officially retired from writing novels, and spent the remaining years of that decade editing and revising his literary works instead. The first complete definitive edition of his works appeared in 1979. In 1980, Cha wrote a postscript to Wu Gongzao's taiji classic Wu Jia Taijiquan, in which he described influences from as far back as Laozi and Zhuangzi on contemporary Chinese martial arts.[7]

By then, Cha's wuxia novels had earned great popularity in Chinese-speaking areas. All of his novels have since been adapted into films, television series and radio series in Hong Kong, Taiwan and China. The important characters in his novels are so well known to the public that they can be alluded to with ease between all three regions.

In later years in the 1970s, Cha was involved in Hong Kong politics. He was a member of the Hong Kong Basic Law drafting committee, although, after the Tiananmen Square incident in 1989, he resigned in protest. He was also part of the Preparatory Committee set up in 1996 to supervise Hong Kong's transition by the Chinese government.[8]

In 1993, Cha prepared for retirement from editorial work and sold all his shares in Ming Pao.

Personal life

Cha has three brothers and two sisters. He is the second oldest among them. His brothers are Zha Liangjian (查良鏗; 1916–1988),[9] Zha Lianghao (查良浩; b. 1934)[10] and Zha Liangyu (查良鈺; b. 1936).[11] His sisters are Zha Liangxiu (查良琇; b. 1926) and Zha Liangxuan (查良璇; b. 1928).[12]

Cha married three times in his life. His first wife was Du Zhifen (杜治芬), whom he married in 1948 but divorced later. In 1953, he married his second wife, Zhu Mei (朱玫), a newspaper journalist. They have two sons and two daughters: Zha Chuanxia (查傳俠), Zha Chuanti (查傳倜), Zha Chuanshi (查傳詩) and Zha Chuanne (查傳訥). Cha divorced Zhu in 1976 and married his third wife, Lin Leyi (林樂怡; b. 1953), who is 29 years younger than him.[13] In 1976, Zha Chuanxia, then 19 years old, hanged himself after a quarrel with his girlfriend while studying at Columbia University.[14][15]

Notable relatives

Cha has many notable relatives from both the paternal and maternal sides of his family.

On the paternal side, Cha's cousins include Cha Liang-chao (1897–1982), a famous educator and philanthropist, and Cha Liang-chien (查良鑑; 1904–1994), the Minister of Justice of Taiwan from 1967 to 1970. Distant paternal relatives of Cha include the Hong Kong entrepreneur Cha Chi-ming (1914–2007), the poet Zha Liangzheng (查良錚; 1918–1977), and the xiangsheng actor Zha Liangxie (查良燮; d. 2003). Zha Jiawen (查家雯) from the Taiwanese girl-band Cherry Boom is a paternal grand-niece of Cha. Cha is also distantly related to the Taiwanese romance novelist Chiung Yao (b. 1938); one of Cha's paternal cousins was a maternal aunt of Chiung Yao.

On the maternal side, Cha's cousins include the poet Xu Zhimo (1897–1931) and Jiang Fucong (1898–1990), the first director of Taiwan's National Central Library. Cha is also distantly related to the military strategist Jiang Baili (1882–1938) through a distant aunt, Zha Pinzhen (查品珍), who was Jiang's first wife. Jiang Baili's third daughter, the musician Jiang Ying (1919–2012), was regarded as a maternal cousin by Cha.

Decorations and conferments

In addition to his wuxia novels, Cha has also written many non-fiction works on Chinese history. For his achievements, he has received many honours.

Cha was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1981. He is a Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur (1992) and a Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (2004), both awarded by the French government.[16]

Cha is also an honorary professor at Peking University, Zhejiang University, Nankai University, Soochow University, Huaqiao University, National Tsing Hua University, Hong Kong University (Department of Chinese Studies), the University of British Columbia, and Sichuan University, as well as an honorary doctor at National Chengchi University, Hong Kong University (Department of Social Science), Hong Kong Polytechnic University, the Open University of Hong Kong, the University of British Columbia, Soka University and the University of Cambridge. He is also an Honorary Fellow of St Antony's College, Oxford and Robinson College, Cambridge, and Wynflete Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford.

When receiving his honorary doctorate at the University of Cambridge in 2004, Cha expressed his wish to be a full-time student at Cambridge for four years to attain a non-honorary doctorate.[17] In July 2010, Cha earned his Doctor of Philosophy in oriental studies (Chinese history) at St John's College, Cambridge with a thesis on imperial succession in the early Tang dynasty.[18]


Cha wrote a total of 15 fictional pieces, of which one ("Sword of the Yue Maiden") is a short story and the other 14 are novels and novellas of various length. Most of his novels were initially published in daily instalments in newspapers. The book editions were printed later. The novels are:

English title Chinese title[T 1] Date of first publication[19] First published publication[19] Character count
The Book and the Sword書劍恩仇錄8 February 19555 September 1956The New Evening Post513,000
Sword Stained with Royal Blood碧血劍1 January 195631 December 1956Hong Kong Commercial Daily488,000
The Legend of the Condor Heroes射鵰英雄傳1 January 195719 May 1959Hong Kong Commercial Daily918,000
Fox Volant of the Snowy Mountain雪山飛狐9 February 195918 June 1959Ming Pao130,000
The Return of the Condor Heroes神鵰俠侶20 May 19595 July 1961Ming Pao979,000
The Young Flying Fox飛狐外傳19601961Wuxia and History439,000
White Horse Neighs in the Western Wind白馬嘯西風1961Ming Pao67,000
Blade-dance of the Two Lovers鴛鴦刀1961Ming Pao34,000
The Heaven Sword and Dragon Saber倚天屠龍記6 July 19612 September 1963Ming Pao956,000
A Deadly Secret連城訣1963Southeast Asia Weekly (東南亞周刊)229,000
Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils天龍八部3 September 196327 May 1966Ming Pao and Nanyang Siang Pau1,211,000
Ode to Gallantry俠客行11 June 196619 April 1967Ming Pao364,000
The Smiling, Proud Wanderer笑傲江湖20 April 196712 October 1969Ming Pao979,000
The Deer and the Cauldron鹿鼎記24 October 196923 September 1972Ming Pao1,230,000
Sword of the Yue Maiden越女劍1970Ming Pao evening supplement16,000
  1. Click to sort in order of the first-character couplet "飛雪連天射白鹿 笑書神俠倚碧鴛".

Of these, the novels (The Legend of the Condor Heroes, The Return of the Condor Heroes, and The Heavenly Sword and the Dragon Saber) make up the Condor Trilogy that should be read in that sequence; a number of his other works are also linked to this trilogy (Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils is a precursor to the Condor Trilogy). Fox Volant of the Snowy Mountain and The Young Flying Fox are companion pieces with the same protagonist with appearances of characters from The Book and the Sword. A few major characters from Sword Stained with Royal Blood also appear in his final novel The Deer and the Cauldron as minor characters.


After Cha completed all his titles, it was discovered that the first characters of the first 14 titles can be joined together to form a couplet with 7 characters on each line:

Traditional Chinese


Simplified Chinese


Loose translation

Shooting a white deer, snow flutters around the skies;
Smiling, [one] writes about the divine chivalrous one, leaning against bluish lovebirds (or lover)

Cha has stated that he has never intended to have the couplet. The couplet serves primarily as a handy mnemonic to remember all of Cha's works for his fans.


Most of Cha's works were initially published in instalments in Hong Kong newspapers, most often in Ming Pao. The Return of the Condor Heroes was his first novel serialised in Ming Pao, launched on 20 May 1959. Between 1970 and 1980, Cha revised all of his work. The result is called the "New Edition" (新版), also known as "Revised Edition" (修訂版), in contrast with the "Old Edition" (舊版), which refers to the original, serialised versions. Some characters and events were written out completely, most notably mystical elements and 'unnecessary' characters, such as the "Blood Red Bird" (小紅鳥) and "Qin Nanqin" (秦南琴), the mother of Yang Guo in the first edition.

In Taiwan, the situation is more complicated, as Cha's books were initially banned. As a result, there were multiple editions published underground, some of which were revised beyond recognition. Only in 1979 was Cha's complete collection published by Taiwan's Yuenching Publishing House (遠景出版社).

In China, the Wulin (武林) magazine in Guangzhou became the first to officially publish Cha's works, starting from 1980. Cha's complete collection in Simplified Chinese was published by Beijing's SDX Joint Publishing in 1994. Meanwhile, Minheshe Singapore-Malaysia (明河社星马分公司) published Cha's collection, in Simplified Chinese for Southeast Asian readers in 1995.

From 1999 to 2006, Cha revised his novels for the second (and probably last) time. Each of his works is carefully revised, re-edited and re-issued in the order in which he wrote them. This revision was completed in spring 2006, with the publication of the last, The Deer and the Cauldron. The newly revised edition, known variably as the "Century New Revised Edition" (世紀新修版), "New Revised Edition" (新修版) and "New New Edition" (新新版), is noted for annotations in which Cha answers previous criticisms directed at the historical accuracy of his works. In this revision, certain characters' personae were changed, such as Wang Yuyan,[20] and many martial art skills and places have their names changed.[21] This edition faced a number of criticisms from Cha's fans, of whom some are more willing to stick to the older storyline and names. The older 1970–80s "Revised Edition" is no longer issued by Cha's Minheshe (明河社).

Patriotism, jianghu and development of heroism

Chinese nationalism or patriotism is a strong theme in Cha's works. In most of his works, Cha places emphasis on the idea of self-determination and identity, and many of his novels are set in time periods when China was occupied or under the threat of occupation by non-Han Chinese peoples such as the Khitans, Jurchens, Mongols and Manchus. However, Cha gradually evolved Chinese nationalism into an inclusionist concept which encompasses all present-day non-Han Chinese minorities. Cha expresses a fierce admiration for positive traits of non-Han Chinese people personally, such as the Mongols and Manchus. In The Legend of the Condor Heroes, for example, he casts Genghis Khan and his sons as capable and intelligent military leaders against the corrupt and ineffective bureaucrats of the Han Chinese-led Song dynasty.

Cha's references range from traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture, martial arts, music, calligraphy, weiqi, tea culture, philosophical schools of thought such as Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism and imperial Chinese history. Historical figures often intermingle with fictional ones, making it difficult for the layperson to distinguish which is which.

His works show a great amount of respect and approval for traditional Chinese values, especially Confucian ideals such as the proper relationship between ruler and subject, parent and child, elder sibling and younger sibling, and (particularly strongly, due to the wuxia nature of his novels), between master and apprentice, and among fellow apprentices. However, he also questions the validity of these values in the face of a modern society, such as ostracism experienced by his two main characters – Yang Guo's romantic relationship with his teacher Xiaolongnü in The Return of the Condor Heroes. Cha also places a great amount of emphasis on traditional values such as face and honour.

Cha broke his traditions of his usual writing style in The Deer and the Cauldron, where the main protagonist Wei Xiaobao is an antihero who is greedy, lazy, and utterly disdainful of traditional rules of propriety. In his 14 other serials, the protagonists or the heroes were explored meticulously in various aspects of their relationships with their teachers, their immediate kin and relatives, and with their suitors or spouses. With the exception of Wei Xiaobao, all the heroes have acquired and attained the zenith in martial arts, most would be epitome or embodiment of the traditional Chinese values in words or deeds, i.e., virtuous, honourable, respectable, gentlemanly, responsible, patriotic and so forth.

In The Deer and the Cauldron, Cha intentionally created an anticlimax and an antihero in Wei Xiaobao, who possesses none of the desirable traditional values and no knowledge in any form of martial arts, and depends on a protective vest made of alloy to absorb full-frontal attack when in trouble, and a dagger that can cut through anything. Wei was a street urchin and a womanising weasel, with no admirable qualities whatsoever. The fiction writer Ni Kuang wrote a connected critique of all of Cha's works and concluded that Cha concluded his work with The Deer and the Cauldron as a satire to his earlier work, and a reminder to the readers for a reality check.


The study of Cha's works has spun off an individual area of study and discussion: Jinology. For years, readers and critics have written works discussing, debating and analysing his fictional world of martial arts; among the most famous are by Cha's close friend and science fiction novelist, Ni Kuang. Ni is a fan of Cha, and has written a series of criticisms analysing the various personalities and aspects of his books called I Read Jin Yong's Novels (我看金庸小說).

Despite Cha's popularity, some of his novels were banned outside Hong Kong due to political reasons. A number of them were outlawed in the People's Republic of China in the 1970s as they were thought to be satires of Mao Zedong and the Cultural Revolution; others were banned in the Republic of China (Taiwan) as they were thought to be in support of the Communist Party of China. None of these bans exist today, and Cha's complete collection has been published multiple times in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Many politicians on both sides of the Straits are known to be readers of his works; Deng Xiaoping, for example, was a well-known reader himself.

In late 2004, the People's Education Publishing House (人民教育出版社) of the People's Republic of China sparked off controversy by including an excerpt from Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils in a new senior high school Chinese textbook. While some praised the inclusion of popular literature, others feared that the violence and unrealistic martial arts described in Cha's works were unsuitable for high school students. At about the same time, Singapore's Ministry of Education announced a similar move for Chinese-learning students at secondary and junior college levels.[22]


A recurring theme in contemporary martial arts books is to group characters into different schools and sects and to portrait heroics of the main characters in the context of historical rivalries between and schools of martial arts. Cha's novels are no exception to this. Many of the schools of martial arts portrayed by Cha's works, such as the Shaolin Sect and the Wudang Sect, do exist in real life, though their details are inevitably subject to the artistic license of Cha; other cults, such as the Beggars' Sect, are less well documented. It should be noted that Cha's portrayal of the schools and sects are mostly in line with their contemporary image in martial arts literature, and new sects such as the Ming Cult are the exception, used specifically as a fictional lead into the next era after the Yuan dynasty into the Ming dynasty.


6th century BCSword of the Yue Maiden
11th centuryDemi-Gods and Semi-Devils
13th centuryThe Legend of the Condor Heroes
The Return of the Condor Heroes
14th centuryThe Heavenly Sword and the Dragon Saber
16th century(The Smiling, Proud Wanderer)1
(Ode to Gallantry)2
17th centuryWhite Horse Neighs in the Western Wind
Sword Stained With Royal Blood
The Deer and the Cauldron
(A Deadly Secret)3
18th centuryBlade-dance of the Two Lovers
The Book and the Sword
The Young Flying Fox
Fox Volant of the Snowy Mountain

1 The time frame of The Smiling, Proud Wanderer is unspecified; Cha states that it is intentionally left ambiguous because the novel is allegorical in nature. Nevertheless, people have speculated on the timeframe; the most possible candidate is the Ming dynasty, because the Wudang and Emei sects (founded at the start of the Yuan dynasty) appear prominently, and because the Manchus are not mentioned. In The Deer and the Cauldron, the main character is also mentioned to be from a period before the Qing dynasty. In several film adaptations including Swordsman II starring Jet Li, the story is specified to take place during the reign of the Wanli Emperor, which would make it the late Ming dynasty but just before the Manchu conquest of China.

2 The time frame of Ode to Gallantry is also unspecified. The sources that would put the story in the Ming dynasty are that the mention of Zhang Sanfeng being already dead and the illustrations depict men sporting traditional Han Chinese hairstyles.

3 The time frame of A Deadly Secret was ambiguous in its first and second editions. Cha specifically states that the story is inspired by the tragic story of his grandfather's servant seems to suggest that the events of the novel occurs near the end of the Qing dynasty; the novel illustrations that depict men wearing the Manchu queue supports this idea. In the third edition of the novel, Cha links the story with Wu Liuqi, a character from The Deer and the Cauldron, fully integrating it into the Qing dynasty.

Translations of Cha's works

English books currently available include:

Other works available in English include:


There are over 90 films and television series adapted from Cha's wuxia novels, including King Hu's The Swordsman (1990) and its sequel Swordsman II (1992), Wong Jing's 1992 films Royal Tramp and Royal Tramp II, and Wong Kar-wai's Ashes of Time (1994). Dozens of role-playing video games are based on Cha's novels, a notable example of which is Heroes of Jin Yong, which was based on the major characters and events in Cha's novels.

See also


  1. "'Cha Stone' unveiled". St John's College, Cambridge. 31 July 2012. Retrieved 7 April 2013.
  2. Jin Yong and Daisaku Ikeda (2013). Compassionate Light in Asia: A Dialogue. I.B. Tauris. ISBN 978-1848851986.
  3. (Chinese) 金庸与武侠影视 CCTV. 24 June 2004. Retrieved 4 August 2006.
  4. Discovery Circumstances: Numbered Minor Planets (10001)-(15000) IAU: Minor Planet Center 13 July 2006. Retrieved 4 August 2006.
  5. Chen, Mo (2001). Shijue Jin Yong (視覺金庸) (in Chinese). Yuanliu Publishing.
  6. 金庸生平簡表 - 金庸客棧-金庸小傳
  7. Wu, Kung-tsao (2006) [1980]. Wu Family T'ai Chi Ch'uan (吳家太極拳). Chien-ch'uan T'ai-chi Ch'uan Association. ISBN 0-9780499-0-X.
  8. "Novelist, newspaper founder and sage". Asiaweek. 24 September 1999. Archived from the original on 20 September 2001. Retrieved 22 November 2007.
  9. "查良铿与金庸:"情比金坚"手足情 [The relationship between Jin Yong and Zha Liangjian is "stronger than metal"]". www.xzbu.com (in Chinese). 3 April 2014. Retrieved 27 May 2016.
  10. "金庸大弟查良浩:代哥当上董事长 [Jin Yong's brother Zha Lianghao: Replacing his brother as Board Chairman]". hao1111.cn (in Chinese). 2014. Retrieved 27 May 2016.
  11. Pan, Zeping. "金庸兄弟的手足情 [The relationships between Jin Yong and his brothers]". shuku.net (in Chinese). Retrieved 27 May 2016.
  12. "金庸和他的两个妹妹 [Jin Yong and his two younger sisters]". www.xzbu.com (in Chinese). 7 October 2012. Retrieved 27 May 2016.
  13. "中国最著名的十大老夫少妻【图】 [Ten Most Famous Old Husband Young Wife Couples in China (Illustrated)]". laonanren.com (in Chinese). 13 August 2010. Retrieved 27 May 2016.
  14. Swashbuckler Extraordinaire – A Profile of Jin Yong. Taiwan Panorama. 1998. Retrieved 10 January 2010
  15. "揭"大侠"金庸4子女:长子查传侠19岁时为情自缢 [Jin Yong's four children: Eldest son Zha Chuanxia hanged himself at the age of 19 due to relationship problems]". culture.ifeng.com (in Chinese). 1 April 2014. Retrieved 27 May 2016.
  16. Louis Cha Awarded French Honor of Arts Xinhua News Agency. 14 October 2004. Retrieved 4 August 2006.
  17. Octogenarian novelist wants to be student Shenzhen Daily. 23 June 2004. Retrieved 4 August 2006.
  18. 以盛唐皇位制度作论文 金大侠考获剑大博士学位 2010-09-12, baidu
  19. 1 2 The dates conform to the data published in 陳鎮輝,《武俠小說逍遙談》, 2000, 匯智出版有限公司, pp. 56–58
  20. While Wang Yuyan accompanied Duan Yu back to Dali in older revisions, in the new revision she refused and stayed to serve Murong Fu instead. See Chapter 50 of Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils.
  21. See this article.
  22. (Chinese) 金庸小说也走进本地教材 Lianhe Zaobao. 4 March 2005. Retrieved 4 August 2006.

Further reading

Order of precedence
Preceded by
William Purves
Recipient of the Grand Bauhinia Medal
Hong Kong order of precedence
Recipient of the Grand Bauhinia Medal
Succeeded by
Jao Tsung-I
Recipient of the Grand Bauhinia Medal
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