Louis Cha Leung-yung, GBM, OBE (Chinese: 查良鏞; Sidney Lau: Cha4 Leung4 Yung4) (born February 6 1924), better known by his pen name Jin Yong, is a Chinese wuxia novelist and essayist who co-founded the Hong Kong daily newspaper Ming Pao in 1959 and served as the newspaper's first editor-in-chief.

His fictional novels of the wuxia ("martial arts and chivalry") genre have a widespread following in many 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 greatest and most popular wuxia writers ever. He is currently the best-selling Chinese author alive, and over 100 million copies of his works have been sold worldwide[2] (not including an unknown number of pirated copies).[3]

His works have been translated into many languages including English, French, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai, Burmese, Malay and Indonesian. He has many fans outside of Chinese-speaking areas, as a result of the numerous adaptations of his works into films, television series, comics and video games.

The 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".

Early life

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). 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 arrested and executed by the Communist government for allegedly being a counterrevolutionary during the Campaign to Suppress Counterrevolutionaries in the early 1950s. Zha Shuqing was later posthumously declared innocent in the 1980s.[6]

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 expelled 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.[7] 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.

Life in Hong Kong

When Cha was transferred to Hsin Wan Pao (of British Hong Kong) 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, where he described influences from as far back as Laozi and Zhuangzi on contemporary Chinese martial arts.[8]

By then, Cha's wuxia novels had gained great popularity in Chinese-speaking areas. All of his novels have since been adapted into films, TV shows and radio dramas 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 the late 1970s, Cha was involved in Hong Kong politics. After Deng Xiaoping, a Jin Yong fan, came to power and initiated the reform and opening-up process, Cha became the first non-Communist Hong Konger to meet with Deng.[9] He was a member of the Hong Kong Basic Law drafting committee but resigned in protest after the Tiananmen Square incident in 1989. He was also part of the Preparatory Committee set up in 1996 by the Chinese government to monitor the 1997 transfer of sovereignty.[10]

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),[11] Zha Lianghao (查良浩; b. 1934)[12] and Zha Liangyu (查良鈺; b. 1936).[13] His sisters are Zha Liangxiu (查良琇; b. 1926) and Zha Liangxuan (查良璇; b. 1928).[14]

Cha married three times. 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 his junior.[15] In 1976, his son Zha Chuanxia, then 19 years old, hanged himself after a quarrel with his girlfriend while studying at Columbia University.[16][17]

Notable relatives

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

On his 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) by the British government in 1981. He was awarded a Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur (1992) and a Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (2004) by the French government.[18]

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. Cha is 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 a 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.[19] 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.[20] [21]


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

English title Chinese title[T 1] Date of first publication[22] First published publication[22] Character count
The Book and the Sword 書劍恩仇錄 8 February 19555 September 1956 New Evening Post 513,000
Sword Stained with Royal Blood 碧血劍 1 January 195631 December 1956 Hong Kong Commercial Daily 488,000
The Legend of the Condor Heroes 射鵰英雄傳 1 January 195719 May 1959 Hong Kong Commercial Daily 918,000
Fox Volant of the Snowy Mountain 雪山飛狐 9 February 195918 June 1959 New Evening Post 130,000
The Return of the Condor Heroes 神鵰俠侶 20 May 19595 July 1961 Ming Pao 979,000
The Young Flying Fox 飛狐外傳 11 January 19606 April 1962 Wuxia and History (武俠與歷史) 439,000
White Horse Neighs in the Western Wind 白馬嘯西風 16 October 196110 January 1962 Ming Pao 67,000
Blade-dance of the Two Lovers 鴛鴦刀 1 May 196131 May 1961 Ming Pao 34,000
The Heaven Sword and Dragon Saber 倚天屠龍記 6 July 19612 September 1963 Ming Pao 956,000
A Deadly Secret 連城訣 12 January 196428 February 1965 Southeast Asia Weekly (東南亞周刊) 229,000
Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils 天龍八部 3 September 196327 May 1966 Ming Pao and Nanyang Siang Pau 1,211,000
Ode to Gallantry 俠客行 11 June 196619 April 1967 Ming Pao 364,000
The Smiling, Proud Wanderer 笑傲江湖 20 April 196712 October 1969 Ming Pao 979,000
The Deer and the Cauldron 鹿鼎記 24 October 196923 September 1972 Ming Pao 1,230,000
Sword of the Yue Maiden 越女劍 1 January 197031 January 1970 Ming Pao evening supplement 16,000
  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 and should be read in that order; 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 works with the same protagonist and characters from The Book and the Sword appear. 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 works, 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 create the couplet. The couplet serves primarily as a handy mnemonic to remember all of Cha's works for his fans.

  • "Sword of the Yue Maiden" was left out because it would be an odd number, thus the couplet would not be complete, also because the "Sword of the Yue Maiden" was so short it was not even considered a book.


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 works. The revised works of his stories are known as 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 was 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, Mingheshe Singapore-Malaysia (明河社星马分公司) published his 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 novel, The Deer and the Cauldron. The newer revised edition, known variably as the "New Century Edition" (世紀新修版), "New Revised Edition" (新修版) and "New New Edition" (新新版), is noted for its annotations where Cha answers previous criticisms directed at the historical accuracy of his works. In the newer revision, certain characters' personae were changed, such as Wang Yuyan,[23] and many martial art skills and places have their names changed.[24] This edition faced a number of criticisms from Cha's fans, some of whom prefer the older storyline and names. The older 1970–80 "New Edition" (新版) is no longer issued by Cha's publisher Mingheshe (明河社).

Patriotism, jianghu and development of heroism

Statue of Cha on Taohua Island, Zhejiang Province

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 his 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 are real.

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.

In all but his 14th work, The Deer and the Cauldron, the protagonists or heroes are explored meticulously through their relationships with their teachers, their immediate kin and relatives, and with their suitors or spouses. In each, the heroes have attained the zenith in martial arts and most would be the 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 departed from his usual writing style, creating in its main protagonist Wei Xiaobao an antihero who is greedy, lazy, and utterly disdainful of traditional rules of propriety. Cha intentionally created an anticlimax and an antihero possessing none of the desirable traditional values and no knowledge of any form of martial arts, and dependent upon a protective vest made of alloy to absorb full-frontal attack when in trouble and a dagger that can cut through anything. Wei is a street urchin and womanising weasel, with no admirable qualities whatsoever.[citation needed] The fiction writer Ni Kuang wrote a connected[clarification needed] 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 to restore a balanced perspective in readers.


The study of Cha's works has spun off an specific 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 those 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 of 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 are currently in force, 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 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.[25]


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

Translations of Cha's works

English books currently available include:

(Legend of the Condor Heroes (1): A Hero Is Born was expected to be published in February 2018[26][27])

Other works available in English include:


There are over 90 films and TV shows 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. ^ (in 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. ^ "金庸父亲查枢卿1950年被人民政府枪决内幕(图) [Behind the People's Government's execution of Jin Yong's father Zha Shuqing in 1950 (illustrated)]". wenxuecity.com (in Chinese). 18 October 2012. Retrieved 10 January 2018. 
  7. ^ 金庸生平簡表 - 金庸客棧-金庸小傳
  8. ^ 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. 
  9. ^ Hamm, John Christopher (2006). Paper Swordsmen: Jin Yong And the Modern Chinese Martial Arts Novel. University of Hawaii Press. p. 198. ISBN 9780824828950. 
  10. ^ "Novelist, newspaper founder and sage". Asiaweek. 24 September 1999. Archived from the original on 20 September 2001. Retrieved 22 November 2007. 
  11. ^ "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. 
  12. ^ "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. Archived from the original on 6 August 2016. Retrieved 27 May 2016. 
  13. ^ 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. 
  14. ^ "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. 
  15. ^ "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. 
  16. ^ Swashbuckler Extraordinaire – A Profile of Jin Yong. Taiwan Panorama. 1998. Retrieved 10 January 2010
  17. ^ "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. 
  18. ^ Louis Cha Awarded French Honor of Arts Xinhua News Agency. 14 October 2004. Retrieved 4 August 2006.
  19. ^ Octogenarian novelist wants to be student Shenzhen Daily. 23 June 2004. Retrieved 4 August 2006.
  20. ^ 以盛唐皇位制度作论文 金大侠考获剑大博士学位 2010-09-12,
  21. ^ "The imperial succession in Tang China, 618-762", Cha, Louis, University of Cambridge, 2010.
  22. ^ a b 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; 創意寫作系列:書寫香港@文學故事, 2008, Hong Kong Educational Publishing Company, p. 169; and the website 世上所有的正版金庸小说清单, authorised by the author
  23. ^ 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.
  24. ^ See 金庸小说.
  25. ^ (in Chinese) 金庸小说也走进本地教材 Lianhe Zaobao. 4 March 2005. Retrieved 4 August 2006.
  26. ^ "Female Oxford Grad to Publish Her Translation of Chinese Classical "Wuxia" Novel". Women of China. 28 October 2017. 
  27. ^ Thorpe, Vanessa (26 November 2017). "A hero reborn: 'China's Tolkien' aims to conquer western readers". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 November 2017. 

Further reading

  • Stateless Subjects: Chinese Martial Arts Literature and Postcolonial History, Chapters 3 and 4. Petrus Liu. (Cornell University, 2011).

External links

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
Li Ka-shing
Recipient of the Grand Bauhinia Medal