Edith Maude Eaton

Edith Maude Eaton (Sui Sin Far), journalist, author (b at Macclesfield, Eng, 15 Mar 1865; d at Montréal, 7 Apr 1914). Born in England, daughter of a CHINESE mother and an English father, Edith Maude Eaton immigrated with her family to Hudson, New York in the early 1870s, but soon moved to MONTRÉAL, Québec. The family lived in poverty and Edith was forced to leave school in order to work and help support her family. Her education was continued at home by her parents. Eaton started her career in publishing as a typesetter at the Montreal Daily Star when she was 18. Shortly afterward Eaton began writing, and she had her first short stories published in the Dominion Illustrated (1888). These first stories, as with the majority of her later work, focused on the struggles of Asian immigrants in North America. Eaton took the pen name Sui Sin Far as an homage to her Asian heritage. After her time in Montréal Eaton moved to the western United States, living in Seattle and San Francisco for the better part of a decade (1900-1909). While there she continued to write short stories and articles for newspapers and magazines on the plight of those of Asian descent. In 1909 Eaton moved east, settling in Boston, where she compiled and published a collection of short stories, Mrs. Spring Fragrance (1912). The publication of this collection was monumental because Eaton was the first writer of Asian heritage to be published in North America. Plagued by illness her entire life, Eaton was stricken with rheumatism in 1913. She returned to Montréal shortly after becoming ill, and died on 7 April 1914. She is interred at Montréal's Mount Royal Cemetery.

Mrs. Spring Fragrance, and Eaton's writing as a whole, was groundbreaking in that it told the stories of the suffering, DISCRIMINATION and RACISM encountered by Asian immigrants in Canada and the United States at a time when there was little public sympathy towards them. Mrs. Spring Fragrance remained out of print until 1995, when a new edition was released by editors Amy Ling and Annette White-Parks. This new edition features the short stories from Eaton's original collection, as well as numerous articles she had written and published in such newspapers and magazines as the Montreal Daily Witness, the Los Angeles Express, the New York Independent, The Westerner, and the New England Magazine.