Fu Lei was born in Shanghai in 1908. He moved to France in 1928 to study art and literature. Upon his return in 1932, he taught in Shanghai and worked as a journalist and an art critic. His translations were highly regarded, and he is renowned for translating Voltaire, Balzac, and Romain Rolland. He developed his own style (Fu Lei Style) and his own translation theory.
In 1966, after he was labeled a public enemy by Mao's regime, he and his wife committed suicide.