Hualing Nieh Engle
"She is truly Iowa's ambassador to the world."
Willard Boyd, 2008
Hualing Nieh Engle is an author and editor of global acclaim
and one of Iowa’s most gifted cultural ambassadors.
Born Nieh Hualing in Hubei Provence, China in 1925, Engle
came to Iowa City in 1964 to attend the Writer’s Workshop.
In 1967, she and late husband Paul founded the International
Writing Program at the University of Iowa, with the intention
to create international connections among writers and heighten
understanding across borders. Four decades later this unique
residency program has hosted over 1100 poets, playwrights,
and fiction writers from 120 countries. Many of the program’s
visiting writers are introduced to American life, art, and
politics through the hospitality and friendship of Engle.
She has and continues to work for international goodwill on
the practical and creative levels. In 1976, 300 writers advanced
the Engles for the Nobel Peace Prize, and they were officially
nominated. Over a distinguished literary career that spans
the last half-century and two continents, Engle has worked
with grace and tenacity to make Iowa a crossroads for international
writing and exchange. She has authored more than twenty published
books and has been praised in China and the United States
for the sincere way her work draws strength from two very
different literary traditions. Last year, she published her
memoir, Three Lives, which chronicles her experiences in China,
Taiwan and the United States. In her retirement, Engle occasionally
returns to East Asia to serve on literary juries, negotiation
with cultural agencies, and participate in various cultural
gatherings. She also finds time to carry on an extensive correspondence
with writers worldwide who have remained personal friends
and enduring admirers of Iowa. Engle was inducted into the
Iowa Women's Hall of Fame in 2008.