2008 Iowa Women's Hall of Fame Honoree: 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.