Zhang Henshui (1895-1967) was the penname of the most prolific Chinese popular novelist who totally produced more than 100 novels with over 30 million Chinese characters throughout his life. His first major long work, Chiming Wuishi (“An Unofficial Tale of Peking”) and Jinfen Shijia (“A Family of Distinction “) were huge success. His masterpiece, Tixiao Yinyuan (“The Fates of a Marriage of Tears and Laughter”) had been punished with more than 20 editions and is still popular today.
In Februray 1946, Zhang left for Peking frorn Nanking to establish the Xinmin Newspaper which was headquartered at No.23 Jia, Beigouyan in Xicheng District, in a four-level Siheyuaner with more man 30 rooms. After he suffered a stroke in 1949, he lost the ability to walk, and his production of novels was decreased. He was hard up. So he sold the siheyuaner and bought a much smaller one on the west of the Zhuanta hutong. In the novel A Walk along the Dark Lane, Zhang described the hutong as follows: “ the path in the hutong is of earth ground and is scattered with cart treks and dried up pits. The road is hard to walk on without a cane. Looking into the east end from the west end, there is some dim firelight given out from the main street. But the near surroundings are as dark as night, which is reinforced by several black trees. Some trees grow luxuriantly and densely on the front of some doors. They make their way on the road’s center and add more eeriness to the surrounding.” In 1923, when Lu Xun became estranged with his brother Zhou Zuoren, he moved to No.61 in thew middle section of the Zhuanta hutong.
Lu looked down upon Zhang’s works which cater for the everyman’s Tastes”. But his mother liked reading Zhang’s novels. Being a dutiful son, Lu bought his mother some of Zhang’s novels. In one of the loiters he wrote to his mother, Lu said: I bought all the 12 series of the Jinfen Shijia and the three series of Meiren En (Kindness of the Beauty) the day before yesterday. Both of them are works of Zhang Henshui. I packed them in two parcels and posted them via the World Press “The books might have been sent to you. But I have no knowledge of the books, as I never read them.”