Mr. Wen Yiduo (1899~1946), whose primitive name was Jiahua, alias Yiduo, entered Tsinghua University in the autumn of 1912 and studied in America in 1922 when he majored in Arts at Chicago Academy of Fine Arts and University of Colorado. Due to being homesick due to his love for this nation, he went back to China in 1925 and started giving lectures in many universities. In August 1932, Mr. Wen was recruited by Tsinghua University and served as a professor in the Department of Chinese Literature.
During that time, accommodation in Tsinghua University was in short supply. At first, Mr. Wen Yiduo settled down with Dr. Gu Yuxiu (1902-2002, who was a well-known scholar in China) at Dayuan which was next to the west gate of Tsinghua University. In March 1933, he moved to No.46 Xiyuan. One year later, the western style houses at Xinlin Yuan courtyard were completed, Mr. Wen Yiduo moved to No. 72 Xinlin Yuan courtyard which was the biggest dwelling among the other residences. “It had different sized bedrooms, study rooms, living rooms, dining rooms, storage rooms, bedrooms for help, kitchens, toilets, totally to 14 rooms. It was also equipped with electric lights, telephones, electric bells, cold and hot water equipment etc. Both sides of the corridor were decorated with a green lawn and surrounded by holly dwarf cypress walls; there was also a big fishbowl in the middle of the mown. The study room was broad and bright, the bookcase nearly touched the ceiling and a desk was put next to window. The environment was perfect for Mr. Wen Yiduo, due to which most researches were conducted here. He would take a walk at the large balcony or the clean weeds in the mown or have fun with goldfishes when he felt tired. In winter, he would make snowmen or snowballs with children.”
As an artist and a poet, Mr. Wen Yuduo holds a thick artistic temperament. He cared about the artistic atmosphere at home, he taught his wife how to write poems and helped his son improve his handwriting. He wanted his life to be filled with artistic colors, for example, he inlayed a golden fresco on a black wall, which created an extremely romantic household tone. Mr. Wen Lipeng, the son of Mr. Wen Yiduo recalled: “During my childhood, my father always cultivated an atmosphere where poems combined with an artist created a cohesive ‘magnetic field’ and ‘aura’.”
Before the second of Anti-Japanese War, Mr. Wen Yiduo indulged himself into ancient books and records. He always gave academic guides to students who visited his home. In the early winter of 1935, postgraduate Zhang Qingchang went to No.72 Xinlin Yuan Courtyard and visited Mr. Wen Yiduo. Mr. Wen suggested him to write The Book of Songs by using words from West Zhou and East Zhou dynasty in order to return the original character appearance of The Book of Songs, Zhang Qingchang was deeply inspired by this suggestion.
In June 1937, Zang Kejia (1905-2004, a renowned poet in China) came to Peking from Qingdao, he reminisced of when he visited Mr. Wen Yiduo at No.72 Xinlin Yuan Courtyard: “He lived in a one-story building, there was a small courtyard filled with grass, the living environment was full of vigor. The study table, worn-out writing brush and wall of books were still the same. When he saw me, he threw away the pen he was holding and stood up with great surprise. Then he handed me a cigarette to smoke. This time, I saw mythologies instead of poetries of Tang Dynasty and poet Du Fu quotations on his large notebooks.”
After the December 9th Movement in 1935, the Kuomintang government strengthened its control on students. On Feb 29th, 1936, more than 400 military guards rushed into the Tsinghua campus and encircled student dormitories. They started to capture pioneer students from 7 pm, whilst professors’ homes became students’ shelters. “Huang Cheng and Yao Yilin hid themselves at Professor Feng Youlan’s homes, Wei Yumei, Wei Junyi, Wang Zuomin and other students hid themselves at Professor Zhu Ziqing’s home, other students hid themselves at Professor Wen Yiduo’s home.”
When the War of Resistance Against Japan fully broke out in 1937, Mr. Wen Yiduo moved to Wuhan with his family, then they went to Changsha, Kunming. Due to leaving in a hurry, all the books and other valuable items were left at No.72 Xinlin Yuan courtyard. Soon afterwards the Japanese went into Tsinghua campus, where Mr. Wen’s books and treasures were destroyed. “I don’t want to be an officer, I don’t want to leave Tsinghua either”, said Mr. Wen Yiduo, he never thought that this time of rush-off became his farewell to Tsinghua campus. During the fierce war situation, Mr. Wen didn’t stay at the study room anymore; he rose with force and defended democracy. On July 15th, 1946, Mr. Wen Yiduo has been assassinated by the Kuomintang government, but his brave and just spirit has forever become the ridge of the nation of China.
Note: This article was adapted from Tsinghua University History Museum’s WeChat account “qhdxxsg”. Yao Yaxin is the original author. Some contents were adapted in this article as per requirement.
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