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Lu Mu-chen (Sun Loo Shee, Lu Muzhen)


Updated: 2019-10-31

Dr Sun Yat-sen's first wife


Lu Mu-chen was born on July 30, 1867 to a merchant family in today's Waisha Village of Jinding Town.

Arranged by their parents, Lu married Sun Yat-sen at age 17 in 1884. Sun at the time was a student at the Government Central School, later known as Queen's College. Lu gave birth to their son, Sun Fo (Sun Ke), and daughters Sun Yuen (Sun Yan) and Sun On (Sun Wan). She divorced in Sept 1915 before moving to Macao where she became a Christian. She had lived in today's Dr Sun Yat-sen Memorial House in Macao until 1952.


Lu Mu-chen (Sun Loo Shee, Lu Muzhen) (1867-1952) [Photo provided by Zhuhai Archives]

The first wife of Sun contributed to the Chinese revolution by sparing Sun worries about his family.


Sun went to Hawaii in October 1894 and founded the Hsing Chung Hui (Xingzhonghui), Revive China Society, which made Sun a professional revolutionist.

In the wake of China's defeat in the Sino-Japanese War (1894-95) and the ensuing crisis, Sun went to Hong Kong in 1895 and plotted for an uprising in Canton (Guangzhou). When the scheme failed, he began a 16-year exile abroad.

To escape implication in the case, Lu Mu-chen, together with her mother-in-law -- Sun's mother Madam Yeung -- and her first two children, were assisted to flee to Macao. They then embarked on a journey from Hong Kong to seek shelter from Dr Sun's older brother, Sun Mei, who was then a farmer, merchant, and rancher on Oahu and Maui islands of Hawaii. There Dr Sun's younger daughter, Sun On, was born. 


Sun family photo, with Sun Mei standing next to Dr Sun Yat-sen and Lu Mu-chen, fourth and third from right, and Madam Yeung sitting in the center [Photo provided by Lu Miaozhen]


Nonetheless, Sun Mei had to declare bankruptcy after the local government revised regulations for leasehold of land, and moved to Hong Kong in 1907, with the big family soon following. Madam Yeung died of disease in Kowloon on July 19, 1910, and Lu Mu-chen wrestled with the funeral affairs with the help of her elder son, Sun Fo.

Dr Sun Yat-sen took the post of provisional president of the Republic of China on Jan 1, 1912. On Feb 12, the emperor abdicated; the next day Sun resigned, and on the 14th, Yüan Shih-k'ai (Yuan Shikai) was elected as his successor.

Lu Mu-chen then escorted Dr Sun to Peking (Beijing) in August 1912 and joined him in Japan in March 1913. Unexpectedly, she was injured in a traffic accident with Dr Sun's secretary Soong Ai-ling, or Eling Soong. After recovering, Lu Mu-chen returned to live in her residence in Macao.


Lu's former residence in Macao, which is now Dr Sun Yat-sen Memorial House [Photo selected from Dr Sun Yat-sen and Macau by Sheng Yonghua, Zhao Wenfang & Zhang Lei]


While being dedicated completely to fighting Yüan Shih-k'ai, who attempted to replace the republic with a monarchy by proclaiming himself as Emperor of China, Sun fell in love with Soong Ching-ling, one of the Soong sisters who had worked as his English secretary since Sept 1914.

To the invitation of her husband, Lu Mu-chen arrived in Tokyo on Sept 1, 1915 to negotiate divorce. Showing deep understanding of her husband's scenario, the first wife of Dr Sun agreed to their marriage despite objections from founding members of The T'ung-meng Hui (Tongmenghui), United League, a revolutionary coalition having been headed by Dr Sun since 1905. Sun therefore married Soong Ching-ling on Oct 25, 1915 in Japan.

Although divorced, Dr Sun kept writing Lu, showing concerns about her life and handling hometown affairs through her. The six letters preserved at the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall in Zhongshan's Choyhung (Cuiheng) village, where Dr Sun was born, designated the addressee as "Madam Loo" on the envelope and "Fo's Mom" at the beginning of the letter and "Fo's Dad" as addresser inside. Dr Sun's family, meanwhile, deemed Lu a constant family member.


Dr Sun fell gravely ill with incurable liver cancer and died in Peking on March 12, 1925, leaving Lu Mu-chen in great grief back in Macao. She dictated a commemorative article, lauding Dr Sun's "great spirit and personality" while reviewing the rewarding years they had shared.

Lu Mu-chen continued to watch over Sun clansmen as requested by Dr Sun while alive, solving their disputes and addressing their problems. She also contributed to philanthropy for her hometown and supported the Anti-Japanese War, or Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-45).

She lived in Macao for 40 years before passing away at age 85 on Sep 7, 1952. Her former residence in Waisha Village has been restored for preservation, and Mu-chen Hall built in 1934 in the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Middle School has been well maintained.


Lu Mu-chen's former residence in Waisha Village [Photo by Zheng Xiaoyue]


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