Hồ Xuân Hương (1772–1822) was a Vietnamese poet who now occupies a position as one of her country’s national heroes. Not much is known about her life—her biography is derived from her poems. She is believed to have been a local official’s concubine, and her poems use clever double entendres to allude to forbidden sexual themes. Legend has it that she ran a teashop, where she was known for spontaneous compositions of perfectly structured poetry. Because of this gift, she was challenged by young men preparing for exams and eventually married one whose poem she considered “not bad.”
Image provided by the Han Nom Special Collection Digitization Project.