This paper aimed at analysing Ding Ning’s life, the background of the Ci poetry world, her spiritual companionships with other female writers, the friendship with male intellectuals, the relationship with her teacher, her disease and the friendship with her doctor, her experiences in the modern times and her Ci poetry writing reflected on HuanXuanCi.
First, Ding Ning was born in Zhenjiang in 1902 and lost her mother when she was only 13 days old. Her family then moved to Yangzhou. She was raised by her stepmother and at the age of 13, she lost her father as well. Ding Ning got married to Huang Fu Hua at 16 and two years later she gave birth to a daughter, but she lost her child when she was 22. At the loss of her daughter, Ding Ning filed a divorce but her stepmother forced her to make a vow not to remarry for this. She lived the rest of her life as a widow for fifty years. Second, Ding Ning wrote Ci poems reminiscing about the times she had spent with her old childhood friend, Dai Wei Qin, after she had left her hometown. When Ding Ning later heard the friend had died ten years ago, she wrote another Ci poem lamenting her death. Third, Ding Ning shared a strong friendship with the renowned Ci peotry critics, Xia Cheng Tao and Long Yu Sheng exchanging Ci poems. Xia Cheng Tao praised her talent and the sincerity of her Ci poems and named her as one of the best modern Ci poetesses. Long Yu Sheng published her Ci poems in the Ci Poetry Quarterly where he served as an editor. Fourth, Ding Ning learned poetry and painting from Chen Han Guang. Huang Yi Xian, one of Ding Ning’s pupils, lost contact with Ding Ning when her husband died of an illness. Ding Ning had other pupil, Wang Yuan Zhuang, who worked in Hefei and took care of her on her birthdays and holidays. Zhuo Meng Fei provided her house as a shelter for her when an earthquake occurred in Hefei in August 1978. Fifth, Ding Ning suffered from insomnia caused by inveterate dyspepsia and depression and was taken with an unknown disease for five years from 1975 to 1980. When she was cured of the disease by Dr. Dai Zhen Guang who found out the disease had been caused through the contact with a cat and treated her. Sixth, at the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War in 1937, Ding Ning created Ci poems conveying the agony and sorrow over the national ruin while wandering around Shanghai, Nanjing, Zhenjiang, and Yangzhou. As she worked at Nanjing Central Library and Anhui Provincial Library for forty years, Ding Ning organized the editions of ancient books and the catalogues. and risked her life to protect 300 thousand rare editions from the invasions of the Japanese military, the Kuomintang’s army and the Red Guards during the Cultural Revolution.