Emily of Emerald Hill by Stella Kon


An opportunity to meet with famous playwright Stella Kon came up yesterday and I quickly grabbed hold of my son’s secondary two literature text and finished it in a day in order to be ready for the meeting at the Singapore Literature Book Club.

The book is a monologue play which has been performed worldwide since the 80s. The play, fictionalised by the author from her memory of her grandmother while still living at Emerald Hill, is about a Peranakan (Straits born) girl, Emily, who was married at 14 to a widower, Keong, the eldest son of a rich family.
She took great pains to ensure her position as the eldest daughter in law is respected despite being younger than her sisters in law, and that her son, although the not the eldest grandson, would be made heir.
Last night’s book club brought about a rich discussion about the Emily.
Was she manipulative and two faced, as described by my son in the footnotes at the bottom of the page, or just wanting the best for the family but doing it all wrong, like so many of us mother.
Tragically, her son, perceived to be gay and studying for an English law degree, was found to have committed suicide when told to return home by Emily after he gave up his law study and not to pursue his career in a stable.
She tolerated Keong’s infidelity and finally gave him an ultimatum, only for him to ostracise her.
The play reminds me of the good intentions I see in so many mothers portrayed in Korean dramas, authoritative yet caring, but ending up alienating their love ones.



Although the play was set in the 50s, it’s still relevant in many Asian societies today.

I will definitely be watching the musical in May.


About vickychong

Just an ordinary woman.
This entry was posted in Me!. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Emily of Emerald Hill by Stella Kon

  1. Pingback: Emily The Musical – a review | Vicky's Writings

  2. Boon Kang says:

    Hello, Ms. Chong. I envy your opportunity to meet the famous Playwright Stella Kon. I would also like to meet her. Your reason for meeting her I bet is a literary one, but I would like to meet her for an entirely different reason.

    I was born in Singapore same year (1944) as Stella Kon. I attended a Chinese kindergarten at Institution Hill (?) when I was little (1948-50). My maternal uncle Peter Quek used to (once every week) pick me up from the kindergarten and we walked to his home in the neighbourhood (94 Emerald Hill).

    Peter Quek passed away in 1980s, last week I managed to reconnect with our long-lost Aunty (Peter’s wife) and she told us the exact address.

    I am sure I can learn a lot more about this neighbourhood from Stella Kon. I would appreciate very much if you would be so kind to help me contacting her. You may forward this note to her if necessary.

    I have been living in Canada since 1970. After my retirement few years ago, i came to Singapore to visit my relatives more often.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s