Hong Ying was born into a sailor's family in Chongqing on the Yangtze River in southwest China. An author and poet, she began her career as a full time writer in the early 1980s, having studied creative writing at Lu Xun Creative Writing Academy and Fudan University.
She is best known in the English-speaking world for her novels, K: The Art of Love (which won the Prix de Rome in 2005), The Concubine of Shanghai, Peacock Cries and Summer of Betrayal. Her autobiography, Daughter of the River, has been translated into twenty-five different languages. She lives in Beijing.