Although the written literature in Zhejiang province began late, it gradually grew into one of the most vigorous branches of Chinese literature since the Six Dynasties (AD 222-589). Representatives are Xie Lingyun, a poet started the Chinese ancient landscape poetry style which had great influence upon later generations, as well as poet Luo Binwang, Bai Juyi and Fan Zhongyan from the Tang and Song dynasties (AD 618-1279).
In the Southern Song Dynasty (1172-1279), Zhejiang literature presented a splendid sight as excellent poets came forth in large numbers, including Lu You, a renowned poet whose works were pure and colorful which enjoyed a high reputation, and Li Qingzhao and Zhu Shuzhen, leading female poets of the time. The ancient vernacular Chinese novels and drama literature also originated in Zhejiang during this period.
In the Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties (1271-1911), Zhejiang literature had been flourishing continuously as giants like Zhao Mengfu and Yang Weizhen, along with Hangzhou city, capital of Zhejiang province, becoming the national center of Zaju Opera (a kind of poetic and musical drama).
Other types of works also shone at the literary history, such as the essays of Zhang Dai, poems and articles of Xu Wei in the late Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), as well as operas of Hong Sheng in the early Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), whose magnum opus Changsheng Dian was a love story between Emperor Xuanzong and his favorite lady Yang Guifei of the Tang Dynasty.
In the modern times, Zhejiang literature had been seeking for new changes and presented a colorful and complex outlook as numerous excellent writers emerged.
In May 1918, Lu Xun published his first vernacular short story Diary of a Madman, which marked the initiate of modern Chinese novels and he used unique art ploys in figuring the rebelled person from the feudal system and appealed to save the younger generation. He was also the exploiter of modern Chinese scribbles. Writers like Mao Dun (a master of realistic writings), Yu Dafu (a great master of the early modern novels and the forerunner of romanticism) and Xu Zhimo (a great master of the modern poems) also made contributions to the development of modern Chinese literature.
As for the traditional poems and essays, Gong Zizhen had great influences as his poems were imposing and he called for the enlightenment to people's thoughts. Following the opinions of Gong, Zhang Binglin’s essays were abundant in contents and complicated in composition, such as his early work Present to Zhou Rong in Jail, which was widely spread among people. The female writer from Hangzhou, Chen Cuina, was skilled in composing Ci poems (a popular form of poems since the Song Dynasty) and tunes. She wrote numerous poems, which attributed to her important status in the female literature history of China.
After the founding of People’s Republic of China, Zhejiang literature stepped into a new era as like Xu Qinwen, Chen Xuezhao and Ji Fang made many achievements in the early 1950s. In the 1980s, thanks to the reform and opening-up, the literary industry began to flourish. The novelettes of 1980s and river novels of 1990s caused great social influences, such as Zhang Tingzhu's novel The Fifty-forth Neighborhoodand Ye Wenling's Dreamless Valley. During this period, Zhejiang literature has made lots of achievements in poem, prose, scribble, literature theory and children's readings. In 2002, China Writers' Association awarded the fifth national excellent children's reading award to the allegory collection Gastrologist's Hunting written by Sun Jianjiang with the pen name Yuyu. Zhejiang literature is an important part of the refulgent Chinese literature.