Ma Jianzhong 1845-1900

A native of Dantu, Jiangsu province, he was from a prominent Christian merchant family and received a Catholic education in Shanghai, acquiring excellent French and some English, Latin and Greek. In 1877, through Li Hongzhang 's recommendation, Ma was appointed translator for a mission which took students from the Fuzhou Dockyard to study in Europe. Upon arrival in Paris Ma enrolled at the École Libre des Sciences Politiques. He graduated three years later with a degree in international law and diplomacy. He returned to China in 1880 and worked for Li Hongzhang in ad hoc foreign affair assignments. He died at the time of the Boxer Uprising. Ma is best known today for his Ma shi wentong (Ma's Guide to the Written Language, 1898), the first grammar of the Chinese language by a Chinese person. His writings also include topics on law, diplomacy, economics and politics, some of which were collected as Shike zhai jiyan (Words from the Shike Studio, 1896).