Edith Maude Eaton, born March 15, 1865 in Macclesfield, Cheshire, England - died April 7, 1914 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, was an author best known under the Chinese pseudonym, "Sui Sin Far."
Edith Maude Eaton was the daughter of Englishman Edward Eaton, a merchant who met her Chinese mother while on a business trip to Shanghai, China. Her mother was Grace "Lotus Blossom" Trefusis, the adopted daughter of English missionaries.
Edith was the oldest daughter and second child of fourteen children. In the early 1870s, the Eaton family left England to live in Hudson, New York but stayed there only a short time before relocating to Montreal. Her father struggled to make a living and the large family went through difficult times. Because of their poverty, at a young age Edith had to leave school to work in order to help support her family. Nonetheless, the children were educated at home and raised in an intellectually stimulating environment that saw both Edith and her younger sister Winnifred (1875-1954) become successful writers.
As a young girl Edith Eaton began writing; her articles on the Chinese accepted for publication in Montreal's English language newspapers, the Daily Star and the Daily Witness. She eventually left Montreal to live in the USA, first in San Francisco then in Seattle before going to the east coast to work in Boston. While working as a legal secretary she continued to write and although her appearance and manners would have allowed her to easily pass as a dignified Englishwoman, she asserted her Chinese heritage and wrote articles that told what life was like for a Chinese woman in white America. First published in 1896, under the pseudonym "Sui Sin Far", her fictional stories about Asian-Americans were a reasoned appeal for her society's acceptance of working-class Chinese at a time when the United States Congress maintained the Chinese Exclusion Act (1882-1943).
Over the ensuing years, Edith Eaton wrote a number of short stories and newspaper articles while working on her first novel. Published in June of 1912, her collection of short stories became a book titled Mrs. Spring Fragrance.
Edith Maude Eaton never married and passed away in Montreal in 1914. She is interred there in the Mount Royal Cemetery. In 1995, Annette White-Parks published: Sui Sin Far/Edith Maude Eaton: A Literary Biography.
Mrs. Spring Fragrance (1912)
Chan Hen Yen, Chinese Student (1912)
A Love Story from the Rice Fields of China (1911)
The Bird of Love (1910)
An Autumn Fan (1910)
Leaves from the Mental Portfolio of an Eurasian (1909)
A Chinese Ishmael (1899)