Alexander Wylie (missionary) : biography
Alexander Wylie (Traditional Chinese: 偉烈亞力, Simplified Chinese: 伟烈亚力) (April 6, 1815 – February 10, 1887), British Protestant Christian missionary to China. He is known for his translation work and scholarship during the late Qing Dynasty.
He was born in London, and went to school at Drumlithie, Kincardineshire, and at Chelsea.
While apprenticed to a cabinet-maker, Wylie picked up a Chinese grammar written in Latin, and after mastering the latter tongue made such good progress in Chinese that in 1846 James Legge engaged him to superintend the London Missionary Society's press at Shanghai. In this position he acquired a wide knowledge of Chinese religion and civilization, and especially of mathematics, so that he was able to demonstrate in his paper Jottings on the Science of the Chinese that Sir George Horner's method (1819) of solving equations of all orders had been known to the Chinese mathematicians of the 14th century.
He made several journeys into the interior, notably in 1858 with Lord Elgin on a British Navy gunboat up the Yangtze and to Nanking, where he served as one member of delegate of three to meet with officials of the Taiping, and in 1868 with Griffith John to the capital of Szechuen and the source of the Han. He completed the distribution of one million Chinese New Testaments provided by the British and Foreign Bible Society's special fund of 1855. From 1863 he was an agent of the British and Foreign Bible Society. He was succeeded by Samuel Dyer, Junior, the son of Samuel Dyer and brother-in-law of Hudson Taylor.
In Chinese he translated books on arithmetic, calculus(Loomis), algebra (De Morgan's), mechanics, astronomy (Herschel's), in collaboration with Li Shanlan,and The Marine Steam Engine (TJ Main and T Brown), as well as translations of the Gospel According to Matthew and the Gospel According to Mark. In English his chief works were Jottings on the Science of the Chinese,published in 1853, Shanghai, a collection of articles published under the title Chinese Researches by Alexander Wylie (Shanghai, 1897).Memorials of Protestant Missionaries (1867), Notes on Chinese Literature (Shanghai, 1867), He also published an article on the Nestorian Tablet in Xian.
His health and eyesight was failing and he returned to London in 1877. In 1882, he sold about 20,000 Chinese titles and antique books which he had amassed in China to the Oxford Library. His collection is now housed in the Bodleian Library as the Alexander Wylie Collection. Blind and bed-ridden, he died at his home in Hampstead on 6 February 1887 and was buried in Highgate cemetery.
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