Cao Xueqin (?1715-63) was born into a family which for three generations held the office of Commissioner of Imperial Textiles in Nanking, a family so wealthy they were able to entertain the Emperor four times. However, calamity overtook them and their property was consfiscated. Cao Xueqin was living in poverty when he wrote his famous novel The Story of the Stone.
"Filled with classical allusions, multilayered wordplay, and delightful poetry, Cao's novel is a testament to what Chinese literature was capable of. Readers of English are fortunate to have David Hawkes and John Minford's The Story of the Stone, which distills a lifetime of scholarship and reading into what is probably the finest work of Chinese-to-English literary translation yet produced. You will be rewarded every bit of attention you give it, many times over." --SupChina, "The 100 China Books You Have to Read, Ranked" (#1)