One of the greatest dramatists from the Ming Dynasty, Tang Xianzu wrote The Peony Pavilion in 1598 as an elegy to true love at a time of ritualistic, repressed behaviour. The story follows Du Liniang, the daughter of a strict official, who has a dream of a young scholar. After she dies, the scholar discovers Liniang's portrait and falls in love with her. Given their separation by time and death, it takes supernatural forces to bring them together again.

Conceived by the Prince Regent as a seaside retreat far from oppressive court life, this celebrated Brighton pleasure palace has a dreamlike atmosphere ideal for the setting of a fantastical story. The interior designer was influenced by the work of William Alexander, an artist who accompanied a diplomatic mission to China and returned with two thousand drawings recording his trip. The extraordinary music room is lit by nine lotus-shaped chandeliers and decorated with rich red and gold canvases supported by painted dragons.