Glossary was designed primarily as a key to an understanding of the terms and terminology employed in Anglo-Chinese society at the turn of the twentieth century. It covers subjects as diverse as the origin of words (such as 'amok' and 'chop'), practices such as footbinding, consideration of the thoughts of Confucius, and many other items of interest and information. Against each entry the equivalent Chinese characters are given. First published in 1878, a third edition appeared in 1900.
Herbert Allen Giles (1845–1935) was a British diplomat and sinologist, educated at Charterhouse. He was only the second professor of Chinese appointed at Cambridge University, succeeding Thomas Wade, and taught there for thirty-five years. One of his major achievements was the modified version of a Mandarin Chinese romanization system produced earlier by Thomas Wade, resulting in the widely known Wade-Giles Chinese transliteration system. He was a prolific writer, and apart from the present volume, his major works included translations of Confucius, Lao Tzu, Chuang Tzu, a Chinese-English dictionary and his
Chinese Biographical Dictionary for which he was awarded the Prix St. Julien by the French Academy in 1897.