Very little is known about the personal and professional life of Lilian Lee—at least in the Western world—including her birthdate. The few sources available still list Lee as alive in 2003. One possible reason for the lack of biographical information is Lee’s many names. Lilian Lee is the English pen name for this Chinese author; some sources spell her name “Lillian” Lee. Her actual Chinese name is Li Pi-Hua, although she is also known as Li Pik-Wah.
Lee is a bestselling author in her native Hong Kong and has written more than thirty books. With the exception of Farewell My Concubine (1992) and The Last Princess of Manchuria (1992), Lee’s books have not been translated into English, or at least are not widely available. Lee has co-written a number of screenplays, including one for the film version of Farewell My Concubine. The film was released in 1993 and became a worldwide sensation. Lee also co-wrote screenplays for Rouge (1988) and Green Snake (1993). In addition, Lee has acted in minor roles in some of these films.