Wellesley Receives Plaque from Museum Dedicated to World-Renowned Chinese Author Bingxin M.A. ’26

February 19, 2019
A professor presents a plaque to President Johnson

On February 5, Charles Bu, William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Mathematics at Wellesley, presented a plaque to President Paula Johnson on behalf of Wang Binggen, founding president of Bingxin Literature Museum in Fuzhou, China, as a gesture of acknowledgement of the role Wellesley played in the life of the renowned author Bingxin, who received her master’s degree in English literature from Wellesley in 1926.

Wang Binggen created the plaque, which reads 涟漪轩, or “Wavelet Pavilion,” in recognition of Bingxin’s love for Wellesley’s Lake Waban, into which she once threw a stone with her name on it, causing a sequence of ripples. Bu brought it to the United States in October 2018, after a visit to the museum with 13 Wellesley students, faculty members, staff, and alumnae that summer. The ceremony took place on Chinese New Year; this is the year of the pig, which symbolizes honesty, generosity, hard work, peace, and good fortune.

Bingxin, the pen name of Xie Wanying (1900–1999), was one of the most influential literary figures in 20th-century China and the world. She spearheaded the Chinese literary revolution of the early 1900s through her use of vernacular rather than classical language in her poems, essays, novels, and children’s literature. Her words on love, childhood, and humanism have inspired many; she once famously wrote, “Childhood is the truth of dreams, is the dream of truth, is the tearful smile of reminiscence.” An essay she wrote that references Wellesley’s Lake Waban is required reading for Chinese schoolchildren.

The calligraphy 涟漪轩 on Wellesley’s plaque was suggested by Wang Binggen when he met with President Johnson in Beijing in February 2018. He was inspired by the plaque that Bingxin herself gave the President’s House at Yenching University, where she taught after graduating from Wellesley, which reads 临湖轩, or “Lake Front Pavilion.” The university president at the time was John Leighton Stuart (1876–1962), a missionary educator, former U.S. ambassador to China, and important figure in U.S.-Chinese relations.

Bu organized a Wellesley faculty delegation’s visit to Bingxin Literature Museum in 2009, headed by Joanne Berger-Sweeney '79, the then associate dean of the College. In recent years, he also led Wellesley alumnae and students in annual summer trips to the museum to honor one of Wellesley’s most distinguished alumnae and tour the only museum dedicated entirely to a Wellesley alumna’s work.