This article traces the first generation of writers of songs and drama in Nanjing who emerged from the anonymous context of early Ming court entertainment and established their name and reputation in the second half of the fifteenth century. These writers—Shi Zhong (1437-after 1516), Chen Duo (1454?-1507?), and Xu Lin (1462-1538)—represented a different mode of writing songs and drama. For them it was no longer a professional occupation, as in the case of the court performers, but became part of their cultural and social life. The extent to which our knowledge of these first-generation qu writers depends on local sources and on acts of remembrance by later Nanjing authors is also examined.