~ Stella Kon: A Child of Emerald Hill ~
Stella Kon is descended from two Singapore families with strong links to historical Emerald Hill Road. She grew up in the house called 'Oebron'.
Her father was born at No.2 Emerald Hill Raod, in the house of his grandfather Dr. Lim Boon Keng. Dr. Lim was the founder of the Singapore Chinese Girls' School, and the house was later used as one of the school buildings.
Stella's mother was born at 117 Emerald Hill Road, in the house of her father, Seow Poh Leng. In the style of those days, the large mansion was given a name as well as a street number, and it was called 'Oberon'; for Seow Poh Leng was a lover of Shakespeare and an actor in the Singapore theatre before the war. He died during the Occupation. After the war, his widow, known to her friends as Polly Seow, presided over a large household at Emerald Hill.
'Emily of Emerald Hill' contains Stella's memories of 'Oberon', and of her grandmother who was its matriarch. The character of 'Emily' is a composite of this formidable lady, and of other strong-minded women known to the writer. The tales told are fictions, based on myths told in many families, and they do not present a factual story. Yet in the sense that image can be stronger than fact, these scenes convey a haunting picture of Singapore's life in the earlier decades of this century.
Stella herself was born in Edinburgh, grew up and was educated in Singapore. Although the grandmother of 'Oberon' was a thorough Nyonya, Stella herself was not brought up to speak Peranakan Malay; she does not wear the costume or cook the cuisine. After marriage, she lived for almost twenty years in Malaysia and Britain. Her view of Singapore is an exile's view, both detached and nostalgic.
Stella has written several other plays, and has won the Singapore National Playwriting Competition three times. More recently she has turned to fiction. Her novel Eston, puslibshed in 1995, won a Merit prize in the Singapore Literature Prize Competition.
She is divorced and has two sons, Mark and Luke, both married and living in London. With one granddaughter, Madeleine, and another one on the way, Stella herself is on the way of becoming the matriarch of an extended family.
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