Many of the marks attached to the phonetic rendering of the Chinese words in this volume differ from those assigned to them in the dictionaries. These apparent discrepencies are intentional, the tones being given as they are applied, or appear to the ear of the compiler to be applied, by the natives of Peking.
Walter Caine Hillier was born in Hong Kong and educated at Bedford School and at Blundell's School in Tiverton. His father was Charles Hillier, British Consul at Bangkok and his mother, Eliza, daughter of the well-known missionary, Walter Henry Medhurst. He was the brother of Edward Guy Hillier, one of the most respected bankers in the Hong Kong & Shanghai Bank and its long-term manager in Peking (1889-1924).
Hillier retired in October 1896 and from February to April 1901 was attached to the Legation in Peking as special political officer for Chinese affairs with the rank of acting First Secretary in the Diplomatic Service. This involved his appointment as adviser to the military authorities in China at which time he was Mentioned in despatches. A stone memorial was erected to Hillier and to a British military officer at Shan-hai-Kwan to recognise the protection afforded to Chinese during the times following the Boxer Rebellion. From 1904–1908 Hillier was Professor of Chinese at King's College London. From 1908–1910 Hillier served as an adviser to the Chinese government, in particular advising Li Hung-chan during his time as Viceroy of Zhili.
Sir Edmund Trelawny Backhouse, 2nd Baronet (20 October 1873 – 8 January 1944) was a British oriental scholar, Sinologist, and linguist whose books exerted a powerful influence on the Western view of the last decades of the Qing Dynasty (1644–1912). Since his death, however, it has been established that the major source of his China Under the Empress Dowager is a forgery, most likely by Backhouse. His biographer, Hugh Trevor-Roper, unmasked Backhouse as "a confidence man with few equals," who had also duped the British government, Oxford University, the American Bank Note Company and John Brown & Company. Derek Sandhaus, the editor of Backhouse's memoirs Décadence Mandchoue, argues that they are also an undoubted confabulation but contain plausible recollections of scenes and details.
Sir Sidney Barton GBE KCVO CMG (26 November 1876 – 20 January 1946) was a British barrister and diplomat, serving as consul-general in Shanghai and as minister to Ethiopia.