Biography of Yen Mah

Topics: Family, Han Dynasty, Grandparent Pages: 2 (442 words) Published: August 18, 2010
Adeline was born in Tianjin, China in 1937, supposedly on the 30th of November. However, this is not her real birthday, since her father could not remember her birthday, so she was given the same date as his. Her Chinese name is Yen Jun-ling (嚴君玲). Two weeks after her birth, her mother died due to medical complications from the delivery, and Adeline was subsequently labeled "bad luck" by the rest of her family. One year later, her father, Joseph Yen, married a Eurasian woman, Jeanne Virginie Prosperi, whom she refers to as Niang (娘, another term for mother). The woman doted upon Adeline's father and her son, while mistreating the rest of the family, even her own daughter and particularly Adeline. Adeline's third brother protected her from some of her stepmother's actions, although, in Falling Leaves, it appears that Adeline's only refuge from Niang is her Aunt Baba, her father's older sister. This childhood conflict, involving emotional abuse and Adeline's attempts to gain her father's affection, are detailed in her second novel, Chinese Cinderella. Throughout her childhood, she was emotionally supported by her paternal grandfather and paternal aunt. When her father became wanted by the Japanese, he left Tianjin for Shanghai. Soon afterward, her stepmother and her half brother joined him. After her father, stepmother, and half-brother disappeared, her grandmother, referred to only as Nai Nai, died. At fourteen, as her autobiographies state, Yen Jun-ling won a play-writing competition (her play Gone With the Locusts), and convinced her father to let her study in England. She completed a medical degree, and established a medical practice in California. In her free time, however, she continued to write about the tragedies that had overshadowed her life. Her memoir, Falling Leaves, relates her full life story. It begins by relating her emotionally deprived childhood under her stepmother's cruelty, and goes on to recount how, after her father died, her stepmother...
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