The Poison of Polygamy
The Poison of Polygamy
Wong Shee Ping and translated by Ely Finch
Sydney University Press
ISBN: 9781743326022


The Poison of Polygamy, first published in serial form in 1909-10, was the first Chinese-language novel to be published in Australia. Most likely written by Wong Shee Ping, the editor of the Chinese Times in Melbourne, it is a kind of Chinese ‘penny dreadful’, but also a morality tale. The novel follows the life of a young Chinese man who leaves his wife in his home village in southern China to seek his fortunes in the Victorian goldfields. His adventures later take him to Melbourne’s Chinatown in Little Bourke Street, before the final tragic end back in the village in China where it all began.

In this bilingual edition, Ely Finch translates the novel into English for the first time. His translator’s introduction, along with a historical introduction by Mei-fen Kuo and Michael Williams, explore the literary, cultural and historical context in which the novel was created, and tell the fascinating story of the detective work required to identify Wong Shee Ping as its author.

The Poison of Polygamy is the first title in our China and the West in the Modern World series.