His courtesy name was Shundong and pen name was Zisong. He was originally people of Renhe (Hangzhou). After he lost his mother in childhood, his father Xia Jianyin then married Miss Xiao in Wuzhen. Xia Tongshan regarded his stepmother as the birth mother. His father was frustrated in his official career and his family was flopped down, so he stopped the official career and started with business. Xia Tongshan always lived with his stepmother at his grandmother's house. He loved reading very much when he was young. He even read all the books collected by his grandfather Xiao Qi.
In 1855, Xia Tongshan passed the imperial examination at the provincial level. The next year, he passed the highest imperial examination and were appointed as Hanlin, and the government gave him a plaque of "Hanlin Building". Xia Tongshan thought that he could study and received the reward all relied on Xiao's family, so he hung the plaque on his grandmother's hall and asked for the decree to rebuild the hall. After the new Hanlin Building was built, he also enshrined the decree in a pair of carved gold-lacquered wooden boxes on the middle beam of the main hall. Xia Tongshan's articles were superb, and were praised by people at that time as "over Zeng Guofan and Zuo Zongtang". Empress Dowager Cixi appreciated his talent and learning very much. She once ordered him and Weng Tonghe to teach Emperor Guangxu. Weng Tonghe mainly taught Guangxu to read and Xia Tongshan mainly taught Guangxu to write.
Xia Tongshan's official career was kind of smooth. He has experienced positions of many officials, such as Official of Shuchangguan, Official of Zhanshifu, Assistant Minister in the Ministry of War in feudal China, Provincial Education Commissioner, and Assistant Minister of Ministry of Official Personnel Affairs in feudal China.Keyword: