Written by Shi Nai’an 施耐庵 , although his (sole) authorship is topic of scholarly debate. Also known as Story of the Marches, Outlaws of the Water Margin, or All Men are Brothers.


Set in the Song dynasty, Water Margin tells the story of a group of outlaws who gather at Mount Liang and are eventually sent out by the government to protect the people and the state. The main characters have become well-known (literarly) figures in China until today, including Wu Song, Lin Chong and Lu Zhishen.


Shi Nai’an, & Luo Guanzhong. (1957). All men are brothers: (Shui hu zhuan) (Pearl S. Buck, Trans.). New York: Grove Press.

In 1933, Nobel laureate Pearl S. Buck published an English translation of 70 chapters, titled All Men are Brothers. As with many of her other books, it was well received in America, but (later) criticized for being inaccurate and containing many errors.

Shi Nai’an, & Luo Guanzhong. (1981, 2001). Outlaws of the marsh (Sidney Shapiro, Trans.). Beijing: Foreign Languages Press.

Sidney Shapiro translated the novel (a combination of the 70 and 100 chapter version) published in 1980 (2001, 4 vols) under the title Outlaws of the Marsh.

Shi Nai’an, & Luo Guanzhong. (1994). The marshes of Mount Liang: A new translation of the Shuihu zhuan or Water margin of Shi Naiʼan and Luo Guanzhong (Alex and John Dent-Young, Trans.). Hong Kong: Chinese University Press.

The 1994 (to 2005) translation by Alex and John Dent-Young, The Marches of Mount Liang , is the most current translation, containing 5- volumes, published with Chinese University Press in Hong Kong. The full title The Marshes of Mount Liang: A New Translation of the Shuihu Zhuan or Water Margin of Shi Nai’an and Luo Guanzhong reflects the debated authorship of Shi Nai’an.

Online Resources

Read the article on this novel from the Berkshire Encyclopedia of China, or learn more about Ming and Qing novels.