Gan Wenchuan was born in Pingjiang, Wu county (today’s Suzhou, Jiangsu province), also known by his courtesy name Shoudao. His literary names included Renli and Zhizhai, which he used in his later years. He passed the Imperial Exam in the second year of the Yanyou period (1315). He was recruited by the government under the Emperor’s edict in the third year of the Zhizheng period (1343) to facilitate the compiling work of The History of the Song Dynasty (songshi). After the work was done, he was promoted as a standby consultant (daizhi) at the Institute of Scholars (jixianyuan), a governmental department responsible for collecting and organizing classic works. He retired as President of Ministry of Rites before long. He was the author of the book Manuscripts of Yu Renli (renlimangao).