Li Qingzhao (Chinese: 李清照; pinyin: Lǐ Qīngzhào; Wade-Giles romanization: Li Ch’ing-chao; her literary name was (hao) Yi’an Jushi, also called Li Yi’an - born 1084, Jinan, Shandong province, China — died after 1155, Jinhua, Zhejiang province) is considered the greatest poetess in Chinese history, whose work, though it survives only in fragments, continues to be as highly regarded as it was in her own day.
Her father was a student of Su Shi. He had a large collection of books and Li was educated during her childhood. Before she got married, her poetry was already well known within elite circles. In 1101 she married Zhao Mingcheng, with whom she shared interests in art collection and epigraphy. They lived in present-day Shandong. When the Northern Song capital of Kaifeng fell in 1127 to the Jurchens during the Jin–Song wars, fighting took place in Shandong and their house was burned. Zhao died in 1129 en route to an official post. The death of her husband was a cruel stroke from which Li never recovered. It was then up to her to keep safe what was left of their collection. Li described her married life and the turmoil of her flight in an Afterword to her husband's posthumously published work, Jin shi lu. Her earlier poetry portrays her carefree days as a woman of high society, and is marked by its elegance.
Li Qingzhao produced seven volumes of essays and six volumes of poetry, but most of her work is lost except for some poetry fragments. She wrote primarily ci poetry, a song form. Her mastery of the metrical rules of the form was such that she produced one of the earliest known scholarly studies of ci. Her poetry is noted for its striking diction as well as for her focus on relating her personal experiences, giving her work more emotional intensity than that of her peers. Her poetic oeuvre reflects the dramas of her lifetime, with the earlier works marked by a carefree vitality and the pieces that she wrote after her husband’s death and her exile reflecting a sombre, grief-stricken tone.