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Wylie, Alexander

WYLIE, ALEXANDER (1815-1887), British missionary, was born in London on the 6th of April 1815, and went to school at Drumlithie, Kincardineshire, and at Chelsea. While apprenticed to a cabinet-maker he picked up a Chinese grammar written in Latin, and after mastering the latter tongue made such good progress with the former, 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 their mathematics, so that he was able to show that Sir George Homer'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 up the Yang-tsze and in 1868 with Griffith John to the capital of Sze-ch'uen and the source of the Han. From 1863 he was an agent of the British and Foreign Bible Society. He settled in London in 1877, and died on the loth of February 1887.

In Chinese he published books on arithmetic, geometry, algebra (De Morgan's), mechanics, astronomy (Herschel's), and The Marine Steam Engine (T. J. Main and T. Brown), as well as translations of the first two gospels. In English his chief works were Notes on Chinese Literature (Shanghai, 1867), and scattered articles collected under the title Chinese Researches by Alexander Wyfo (Shanghai, 1897).

See H. Cordier, Life and Labours of A. Wylie (1887).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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