Chou Li-po was born in a village in Iyang County, Hunan Province, in 1908. His father was a village school teacher, and his two elder brothers are both middle peasants. After finishing junior secondary school in 1927, Chou Li-po was compelled by poverty to leave school, and went to Shanghai. In 1929, he passed the entrance examination at the free University for Workers. Eight months later, however, he was expelled by the reactionary university authorities for his leftist ideology and revolutionary activities. In the winter of 1931, on the recommendation of a schoolmate, he got a job as a proof-reader in a printing-house in Shanghai. In 1932, he was arrested by the Kuomintang reactionaries for taking part in a strike at the press and was sentenced to two and a half years in prison. Released in 1934, he joined the China Federation of Left-Wing Writers and was admitted to the Communist Party of China. Since then, he has held a number of posts, serving as editor of magazines and newspapers, war correspondent, translator from English, teacher at Lu Hsun Arts' Institute in Yenan and head of the Editing and Translation Department of the same institute.
Other works by Chou Li-po include My Impressions of the Shansi-Chahar-Hopei Border Region, Diary at the Front, and In the Soviet Union. The Hurricane, written after he had participated in the land reform in the Northeast in 1946, won a Stalin Prize for Literature in 1951. Chou Li-po also helped to write the scenario of the film Liberated China, which won a Stalin Prize in 1950. In addition to writing, he has translated many literary classics, including Pushkin's Dubrovsky and Sholokhov's Virgin Soil Upturned.