[Story] Ke Chi-hua, Author of A New English Grammar

A New English Grammar was required reading for English study, and was a best-seller for decades.

Born in 1929 in Tsoying, Kaohsiung, and arrested on 31 July 1951, Ke Chi-hua was sent for “reform and re-education” to the Green Island New Life Correction Center’s Eighth Squadron. Released in April 1953, he was arrested a second time on 4 October 1961, and in August 1963 was sentenced to twelve years and locked up in Taiyuan Prison and Oasis Villa. Finishing his sentence, he should have been released in 1973, but was kept in prison for another three years. Only on 19 June 1976 did he win release. Waiting in vain for his release. Ke Chi-hua’s wife, Ke Tsai Ah-li, went to Green Island  together with her mother-in-law to find out why her husband could not go back home. Outside Oasis Villa in the rain, the two women stood resolute, and after a life-and-death session of negotiations with the authorities, were allowed to stand a hundred meters outside his prison cell and wave greetings to Ke.

Ke Chi-hua was dedicated to being a good teacher and for no reason was caught up in the storm of political terror. For young students, his A New English Grammar was required reading for English study, and was a best-seller for decades. He loved literature, and was himself a poet. He died in January 2002, with the Chinese-language edition of his Taiwan, Prison Island being published the following month.

Ke’s family portrait. (provided by Ke Tsai-ali)

Ke Chi-hua was held until 19 June 1976. Prison togs did double duty as mailing bags. (provided by Ko-tsai A-li, photographed by Ronald Tsao)

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