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Simon Johnston

Simon Choa Johnston is a playwright, director, artistic director and novelist. He was born in Hong Kong of Eurasian descent, and moved to Canada to study at McMaster University. He undertook post-graduate studies in theatre in New York before returning to Canada where he had a varied career in the theatrical arts in British Columbia and Ontario. Most recently, he was Artistic Director of the Gateway Theatre in Richmond, B.C. Johnston now lives in South Surrey, BC. Eight of the plays that he wrote are currently available from the Playwrights Guild of Canada’s Canadian Play Outlet. Prior to publishing The House of Wives in 2016, all of his works were issued under the name Simon Johnston.

The House of Wives book cover


The House of Wives

Toronto: Penguin Canada, 2016.
PS8606 .H615 H69 2015

Publisher’s Synopsis (from its website)

In 1862, a young Jew from Calcutta named Emanuel Belilios leaves his dutiful wife Semah and sets sail for Hong Kong to make his fortune in the opium trade. There, he grows into a prosperous and respectable merchant, eventually falling in love with his Chinese business partner’s daughter Pearl, a delicate beauty twenty years his junior. As a wedding present, he builds for her the most magnificent mansion in Hong Kong. Then Semah arrives unannounced from Calcutta to take her place as mistress of the house…and life will change irrevocably for all of them.
Inspired by the lives of Choa-Johnston’s ancestors, The House of Wives is an unforgettable novel about the machinations of the early opium trade, and about two remarkable women determined to secure a dynasty for their children in the tumultuous British Crown colony.


Lion Dance

Toronto: Williams-Wallace, 1985.


Rice Rockets & Yacht People

Toronto: Playwrights Guild of Canada, 2005.
PS8569 .O39174 R53 2005

Publisher’s Synopsis (from its website)

Leonard is a rich, sensitive kid who is obsessed with fast cars and street racing which leads to serious consequences one exciting night. In the second act, we meet his parents. Bored with the turgid pace, crippling taxes and government regulations in Canada, Ken Lee has sold his Canadian factory and is eager to return to Shanghai with his Canadian-Chinese wife Barb. Ken wants to take advantage of the vast Asian market. On the eve of their departure, Roberta White, a disgruntled employee, breaks into their luxury condo to demand that Ken and Barb sacrifice their plans to save her livelihood and that of her fellow factory workers. Meanwhile, Leonard has snuck out in the car, cruising for a race.


Running Dog, Paper Tiger

Toronto: Playwrights Guild of Canada, 1998.



Toronto: Playwrights Guild of Canada, 2013.
PS8569 .O39174 S57 2013

Publisher’s Synopsis (from its website)

In 1936, old Russia is in new China. Two exiled Russian sisters live in a garrison town where their deceased father used to train Nationalist Chinese troops. As the sisters struggle to maintain the illusion of their former lives, Natasha the young Chinese sister-in-law, takes over the house – one room at a time.

Sisters is inspired by Anton Chekov’s Three Sisters.


Simon Johnston personal website

Publisher Penguin Random House Canada

Simon Johnston interview with Randy Murray in the e-news of the Diocese of  New Westminster, Anglican Church of Canada