Heian-kyo (modern day Kyoto), Izumi (modern day Osaka)
fl. 10th c.
Sei Shonagon was the daughter of Kiyohara no Motosuke. Though The Pillow Book is a witty and illuminating portrayal of Heian court life, little is known of Sei's biography, including her exact parentage, date of birth or real name. It is known, however, that Sei had a literary rivalry with Murasaki Shikibu. Fourteen of her poems are included in imperial anthologies as well as the Hyakunin Isshu (One hundred poems by one hundred poets.) [Source:Mulhern, Chieko Irie. Japanese Women Writers: a Bio-critical Sourcebook. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1994.]
The Pillow Book, Poetry
Editions and Translations
McKinney, Meredith, tr. The Pillow Book. London: Penguin Books, 1997. ; Morris, Ivan, tr. The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon. New York: Columbia UP, 1967. ; Waley, Arthur, tr. The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon. New York: Grove Press, 1960.