Born in the late Japanese colonial era, Lin Haiyin was a remarkable female writer and editor who paved the way for Taiwan's nativist writers to switch from the Japanese language to traditional Mandarin Chinese, and revived nationwide interest in reading (and writing) the novel format.
Her father Lin Huan-wen (林煥文) not only went to school with the likes of democracy activist Tsai Pei-huo (蔡培火) and Hakka literati Chung Hui-ke (鍾會可), but also became a teacher who mentored acclaimed writers Wu Cho-liu (吳濁流) and Chang Han-wen (張漢文).
Her family background and personal passion for voracious reading led to a refined acumen for editing, and Lin became appointed as editor-in-chief of the United Daily News Supplement in 1953. Lin promptly re-outfitted the supplement, which was previously known for "assorted, interesting stories," by championing literature over news.
In particular, she used the weekend supplements to publish long works by Taiwanese novelists, first relying on her strong interpersonal networks to employ established authors and then fostering new talent by working closely with up-and-coming writers.
Those who received personal words of encouragement and much-needed exposure through Lin's supplement include Cheng Ching-wen (鄭清文), who went on to illustrate social changes and the effects of modernization in Taiwan; Hwang Chun-ming (黃春明), who became a National Cultural Award laureate in 2010; and Lin Hwai-min (林懷民), who founded Cloud Gate Dance Theatre.
For both her personal literary accomplishments ― which included painstaking editing of works by writers more used to expressing their thoughts in Japanese ― and role in nurturing new talent, Lin was reverently addressed as sensei (先生), a Japanese honorific title that can also be read as "Mister" in Mandarin.
More information on the beloved "Mister Lin" can be found here.