A poet and a woman of the upper class in eighteenth century Vietnam. Some doubt that she existed in part because of her mythic stature as an intelligent writer. Recently discovered court documents suggest that she did exist.
She was of sufficient social status that the dowry required to marry her would have been extravagant; she was forced to be a mistress instead. Despite her airs of freedom, Huong had to rely on men; her poems reflect her disgust of the patriarchal Vietnamese society.
There is a story that she was so good at improvising poems that people would come from far away to challenge her. A traditional Vietnamese poetic challenge involves a challenge followed by a series of responses, one from each party, until the other cannot answer. One man came to her house and spoke a verse to which she responded so quickly and so eloquently that he fainted. Upon his reawakening, he wrote a line back to her that impressed her enough to consider him as a potential lover.
John Balaban has translated a series of her poems in the book Spring Essence. Huong's poems were originally written in Nom, a Vietnamese dialect.