The story of Horose or S. Rosen-Hoa (Part 2)

The post is the second part focused on author Horose or Stéphanie Rosen-Hoa. To access Part 1, follow this link.

Stéphanie Rosen-Hoa, also known as Horose or 羅琛華, settled back in Paris in 1926 with her two children, Leon and Simone Hoa. During her stay, her first book in French “La muraille de Pékin à Paris” (The Beijing Great Wall in Paris) in 1929 by Argo, a small publishing house. She managed to get noticed by several newspapers. An article from local paper “l’Avenir de la Touraine” from 11 November 1929 explains that author is a French/Polish lady who married a Chinese and went to live in China. It adds that the book offers a true and interesting picture of the real China including many anecdotes. A few lines with similar comments were also published in in the “Le Bien Public” (Dijon daily), on first Octobre 1929, as well as in “Les dimanches de la femme” (Women Sundays) on 23rd feb 1930.

She returned to China in 1928, leaving her children to be educated in France. In the same year, she published novel “Him and her” in Chinese.

“La symphonie des ombres chinoises” is the French version of Love and Duty. (see “Love and Duty, the book” for more details about the various editions and translation of this particular book). It was published by edition de la Madeleine in 1932, 11 rue Tronchet, a different publishing house from the previous book. I found a copy in an olnine bookstore.

The book forewords end with “Written in Beijing, reviewed in Paris and finished in Geneva” 1932. S Rosen-Hoa definitely took a trip back to Europe in 1932, publishing an article about “Chinese women” in June 1932 in the montly magazine”L’ Egyptienne” and giving a conference about the condition of women in China at the same period at the Lyceum theater in Paris. She is mentioned by the magazine as “famous novelist Horose”. She also was still in Paris on 16th February 1933 as she was a speaker in a conference about China and Japan.

S. Rosen-Hoa in 1932

Her son being educated in France came back to China for a visit in 1934. She published the novel “Double practice” in Chinese in the same year.

In 1937, as Japan was invading part of China including Beijing, S. Rosen-Hoa went back to France, probably to escape the war. Hua Anjin followed her in 1939. We have very little information about their life in occupied France, but the refuge from the war that they were probably seeking did not last long. Jews in France were also persecuted and many died in Nazis concentration camp, but S. Rosen-Hoa seemed to have escaped it.

She was still living in Paris in 1947, as she wrote a congratulations letter to novelist André Gide who had just received the Nobel price for literature. It is clearly stated that she was living in the same building as André Gide, 1Bis Rus Vaneau in Paris 7th district, near Invalides.

1Bis Rue Vaneau in Paris 7th district

Her husband Hua Nangui returned to China after the war, along with her son Leon who was an architect and his French wife. S. Rosen-Hoa published one last book in France, “Nos sangs mélés” in 1957. Hua Nangui passed away in 1961.

S. Rosen-Hoa went back to Beijing in 1966 to a China very different from the one she had left nearly 30 years earlier, as the communist party had taken power in 1949 and applied many changes to society. She passed away in Beijing in 1970. Her grand daughter 华新民, still lives in Beijing.

The story of Horose, or S. Rosen-Hoa

Famous Old Shanghai movie “Love and Duty” was based on French novel “La symphonie des ombres Chinoises” by S. Rosen-Hoa also called Horose. Very little has been written about Horose, but putting together current academic articles and own research, we now have quite a clear picture of who she was and about her unusual life.

Stéphanie Rosenthal was born in Kalisz, Central Poland, in 1883 in a jewish family. She moved to Paris around the turn of the Century. In the 19th century many Polish artists, aristocrats and intellectual came to France, and many spoke French. Stéphanie Rosenthal and her family likely already spoke French when they came to France, allowing her to join the French schooling system. She then studied at the Sorbonne University, where she graduated in botany, with a thesis on germination of Plantago in 1910, aged 27.

Graduation thesis for Stéphanie Rosen-Hoa at Paris Sorbonne, 1910

She met her future husband during her studies, both of them being keen learners and practicers of Esperanto. Hua Nanhui (华南圭) 1876-1961 was a native from Wuxi, Jiangsu province, China. He arrived in France in 1904 to study at the Public Work High School (ESTP Paris) where he was the first Chinese student graduating from the School in 1908. They got married in 1908, after which he worked for “Les Chemins de fer du Nord” (Great Northern Railway). After the wedding, Stéphanie added the name of her husband to her surname, being now called Stéphanie Rosen-Hoa. They always communicated in French as witnessed by relatives. They moved to China in 1910.

Hua Nangui and S. Rosen-Hoa in 1910

Hua Nanhui worked for the Beijing-Hankou railway until 1913 when he took an official post in the Ministry of Transports and Communication of the new Chinese republic. From that point he was involved in promoting of modern technologies, education and railways in China, publishing the first Chinese Railway engineering textbook in 1916.

The first child of the family was born in 1912, Hua LanHong 華攬洪 also called Leon. The French edition of Love and duty (La Symphonie des ombres Chinoises, 1932) is dedicated to him. The family bought a plot of land in Beijing 量大人胡同(Wuliangdaren Hutong), built a house and moved in in 1914. Her first novel was published in Chinese by Shanghai based Commercial Press in 1915, under the name of 羅琛華. The topic is centered on a women doctor who got educated in France and returned to China. It is likely that the novel was written in French and translated in Chinese, probably by Hua Nanhui. The topic of Chinese students returning from studies abroad and having to adapt back to China was a quite a key topic amongst Chinese returnees in the 2000s, but it was clearly a revival, having been discussed in the 1910s. It is likely that the circle of friend of Stéphanie Rosen-Hoa included many returning students from Western countries, and maybe Japan that was also very popular for studies at the time. Her daughter Leila was born in 1916.

Her most well known is probably “Love and Duty” which first published in Chinese in 1923 then in English in 1926. With its modernity theme focusing on the opposition between traditional and modern values, in particular about arranged marriage and women’s education, it clearly resonnated with the popular Chinese literature movement at the time, the May 4th movement. This lead for the book to be made into the movie “Love and Duty” that kickstarted the popularity of Lian Hua movie production company (also called UPC) as well as being the first main role for upcoming Chinese superstar Ran Lingyu. The book credited for the 1931 movie is called in French “La symphonie des ombres”, although it was already published in Chinese as “恋爱与义务” from 1921 and in English as “Love and duty” from 1926. As mentioned earlier, it shows that the original novel was probably written in French, although only published in France much later.

Hua Nanhui, S Rosen-Hoa and their two children (about 1920-22)

China in the 1920s was far from politically stable with the Beiyang government being very weak and the country being mostly controlled by warlords fighting war against each other for territory control. One of the many examples of the lack of safety at that time was the attack of the Peking Express train in 1922 (see post “The Peking Express” for more details). This is probably one of the main reason why she took a trip back to France in 1926 along with her two children. The second part of her life including travels between China and France will be covered in post “The story of Horose or S. Rosen-Hoa (Part 2)“.

For more details about publication of the Chinese, English and French versions of the “Love and duty” please go to post “Love and duty, the book“. For more details about the movie “Love and duty”, please got to post “Love and duty