The literature anthology Wenyuan yinghua 文苑英華 "Blossoms and flowers of the literature garden" is one of the four great encyclopedias of the Song period 宋 (960-1279), Song si da shu 宋四大書. It was compiled on imperial order by a compilation team of more than 20 persons under the supervision of Li Fang 李昉, Xu Xuan 徐鉉, Song Bai 宋白， Hu Meng 扈蒙 and Su Yijian 蘇易簡. The compilation began in 982 and the anthology was finished in 986. Emperor Zhenzong 宋真宗 (r. 997-1022) had it revised several times by Su Yijian 蘇易簡 and Wang You 王祐, and Emperor Xiaozong 宋孝宗 (r. 1162-1189) had made a text-critical revision which was undertaken by Zhou Bida 周必大, Hu Ke 胡柯 and Peng Shuxia 彭叔夏. This work was finished in 1204, and a print was made of which unfortunately only fragments are preserved. The whole book comprises 1,000 juan "scrolls" and contains the writings of persons from the Liang period 梁 (502-557) to the 10th century. It was meant to be a continuation of the anthology Wenxuan 文選, compiled by Prince Zhaoming 昭明太子 of Liang, and records almost 20,000 writings of more than 2,000 persons. In the categorization it follows the pattern established in the Wenxuan. Part of the 39 categories has sub-divisions, especially the large category of rhapsodies (fu 賦) that is divided into 42 sub-categories. About one tenth of the book contains writings from the Southern and Northern Dynasties period 南北朝 (300~600), and 90 per cent of the writings stem from the Tang period 唐 (618-907). The selection of poetry has caused criticism, for instance, by Li Ximing 李慈銘 in his diary Yuemantang riji 越縵堂日記, where it is said that that poems of different quality are negligently listed one after the other, while the prose literature has been selected very carefully. The Wenyuan yinghua was very important for the popularization of famous Tang period writers like Han Yu 韓, Yuan Zhen 元楨, Bai Juyi 白居易 and Liu Zongyuan 柳宗元, but also includes works of less prestigious writers like Chen Zi'ang 陳子昂, Zhang Yue 張說, Zhang Jiuling 張九齡 or Li Ao 李翱, Quan Deyu 權得輿, Li Shangyin 李商隱, Gu Yun 顧雲 or Luo Yin 羅隱.|
Many writings had been transmitted in the shape of manuscripts and were, in the Wenyuan yinghua, printed for the first time. A lot of older texts are only preserved in the Wenyuan yinghua at all, like Li Shangyin's Fannan jiayi ji 樊南甲乙集 or the collected writings Zhang Yue ji 張說集. The text-critical commentary to the Wenyuan yinghua is particularly valuable because it provided text alternatives from other sources. The Wenyuan yinghua served during the Qing period 清 (1644-1911) as the main source for the compilation of the collections Gushji 古詩紀 "Records of ancient poems", Quantangshi 全唐詩 "The complete shi poems of the Tang period", Quantangwen 全唐文 "The complete prose literature of the Tang period" and various individual collected writings in the collectaneum Siku quanshu 四庫全書.
During the reign of Emperor Zhenzong, Yao Xuan 姚鉉 extracted important writings from the Wenyuan yinghua that he published under the title of Tangwencui 唐文粹. This book was in the end more widespread than the Wenyuan yinghua itself.
The Wenyuan yinghua does not only contain poetry and prose literature works but also a lot of historical documents, like imperial edicts, memorials, and tomb inscriptions. In 1566 a new print was produced that was based on a very widespread manuscript version. Peng Shuxia's commentary Wenyuan yinghua bianzheng 文苑英華辨證 from the Southern Song period 南宋 (1127-1279) is included in the collectaneum Zhibuzuzhai congshu 知不足齋叢書. A reprint made in Canton in the series Wuyingdian juzhenban shu 武英殿聚珍版書 is enriched with Lao Ge's 勞格 supplementary commentary Bianzheng shiyi 辨證拾遺.
In 1966 the Zhonghua shuju press 中華書局 printed a version based on 140 juan of a Song period print and 860 juan of a Ming period 明 (1368-1644) print, and added Peng Shuxia's text-critical commentary as well as Lao Ge's supplement to it.
Cheng Yizhong 程毅中 (1992). "Wenyuan yinghua 文苑英華", in: Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Zhongguo lishi 中國歷史, vol. 3, pp. 1221-1222. Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe.
Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰 (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典, vol. 2, p. 2794. Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe.
Qian Zhongzhen 錢仲朕 (1986) "Wenyuan yinghua 文苑英華", in: Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Zhongguo wenxue 中國文學, vol. 2, p. 974. Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe.
Zhao Hankun 趙含坤 (2005). Zhongguo leishu 中國類書, p. 79. Shijiazhuang: Hebei renmin chubanshe.
1-.150. 賦 fu rhapsodies
151.-330. 詩 shi lyric poetry
331.-350. 歌行 gexing songs
351.-379. 雜文 zawen miscellaneous writings
380.-419. 中書制誥 zhongshu zhigao announcements by the Secretariat
420.-472. 翰林制詔 Hanlin zhizhao edicts by the Imperial Academy
473.-476. 策問 cewen examination questions
477.-502. 策 ce scripts
503.-552. 判 pan judgements
553.-626. 表 biao memorials
627. 牋 jian memoranda
628.-644. 狀 zhuang descriptions
645.-646. 檄 xi proclamations
647.-648. 露布 lubu imperial edicts
649. 彈文 tanwen "touching matters" accusations
650. 移文 yiwen manifestos
651.-666. 啟 qi opening communications
667.-693. 書 shu letters
694.-698. 疏 shu notes
699.-738. 序 xu prefaces
739.-760. 論 lun treatises
761.-770. 議 yi debates
771. 連珠 lianzhu moods like "linked pearls"
771. 喻對 yudui parables
772.-779. 頌 song eulogies
780.-784. 贊 zan encomia
785.-790. 銘 ming inscriptions
791. 箴 zhen admonitions
795.-796. 傳 zhuan biographies
797.-834. 記 ji notes
835.-839. 諡哀冊文 shi'ai cewen lament writings
840.-841. 諡議 shiyi laments
842.-843. 誄 lei dirges
844.-934. 碑 bei epitaphs
935.-969. 誌 zhi memoirs
970. 墓表 mubiao grave memorials
971.-977. 行狀 xingzhuang conduct descriptions; and
978.-1000. 祭文 jiwen offerings