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William Edward Soothill (1861 – 1935) was a Methodist missionary to China who later became Professor of Chinese at Oxford Universitymarker and a leading British sinologist.

Born in Halifaxmarker, Yorkshiremarker in January 1861, Soothill matriculated at London University. He entered the ministry of the United Methodist Free Church arriving in China in 1882 and spent 29 years as a missionary in Wenzhoumarker, Chinamarker. He founded a hospital, a training college, schools and two hundred preaching stations. In 1911 Soothill became President of the Imperial University at Shansimarker. Upon his return to England in 1920 he was appointed Professor of Chinese at Oxford University. In 1926 he was a member of Lord Willingdon's delegation to China on the settlement of the Boxer indemnities.

He is best known for his translation into English of the Analects of Confucius and his Dictionary of Chinese Buddhist Terms with Sanscrit and English equivalents. He married Lucy Farrar in 1884. She wrote an account of their years in China entitled A Passport to China.

Selected Works by William Edward Soothill

  • The Student's Four Thousand and General Pocket Dictionary (1899)
  • A Mission in China (1906,1907)
  • The Analects of Confucius (1910)
  • China and Education, with Special Reference to the University for China (1912)
  • Timothy Richard of China (1924)
  • China and the West: A sketch of their Intercourse (1925)
  • A History of China (1927)
  • China and England (1928)
  • The Three Religions of China (1929)
  • The Lotus of the Wonderful Law: or, The Lotus Gospel (1930)
  • A Dictionary of Chinese Buddhist Terms: with Sanskrit and English Equivalents and a Sanskrit-Pali Index (1937)
  • The Hall of Light: A study of Early Chinese Kingship, edited by Lady Hosie and G. F. Hudson (1951)


The Methodist Archives Biographical Index: Minutes of Conference 1958 and Encyclopedia of World Methodism (1974)


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