An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Mei Dingzuo 梅鼎祚

May 6, 2012 © Ulrich Theobald

Mei Dingzuo 梅鼎祚 (1549-1615), courtesy name Mei Yujin 梅禹金, was a Ming period 明 (1368-1644) writer and book collector. He came from Xuancheng 宣城, Anhui, and learned to write poems in his early youth. His poems were as famous as those of Shen Jundian 沈君典, but when the latter obtained the jinshi degree, Mei Dingzuo decided to give up official career and dedicated himself to the study of ancient literature. For this decision he was highly praised by the historian and writer Wang Shizhen 王世貞. Grand Academician (neige da xueshi 內閣大學士) Shen Shixing 申時行 even recommended him for an office at the court, buy Mei Dingzuo declined. He had built his famous Tianyi Garden 天逸園 in whose buildings Mei's library was to be found. The library was often visited by Mei's friends Jiao Hong 焦竑, Feng Mengzhen 馮夢楨 and Zhao Qimei 趙琦美. All of them were ardent book collectors and planned to meet regularly in the southern capital Nanjing 南京 (at that time called Jinling 金陵) to exchange their knowledge and to report about their newest acquisitions, yet the project came not into being. Mei Dingzuo was also befriended with the playwriter Tang Xianzu 湯顯祖, and the two persons mutually criticized their plays, poems and rhapsodies.
Mei Dingzuo has written a lot of poems that are to be found in the 20 juan "scrolls" long collection Mei Yujin ji 梅禹金集. His collection of novellas Caigui ji 才鬼記 is 16 juan long, the collection Qingni lianhua ji 青泥蓮花記 13 juan. He has also written the anthologies Lidai wenji 歷代文紀, Han-Wei badai shicheng 漢魏八代詩乘, Tangyueyuan 唐樂宛 and Guyueyuan 古樂宛.

Li Yu'an 李玉安, Chen Chuanyi 陳傳藝, eds. (1989). Zhongguo cangshujia cidian 中國藏書家辭典 (Wuhan: Hubei jiaoyu chubanshe), 142.