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Profile of Yan Fu


Profile of Yan Fu

Yan Fu

(Photographer unknown, public domain photograph)


1854 - 1921


Yan Fu trained at the Fuzhou Dockyard School also created in the late 1800s by Zuo Zongtang as a method to strengthen China in the face of foreign colonialism. Yan was then sent to England in 1877 to study at the naval college in Greenwich. He had hoped to become a Chinese official through under the imperial civil service exam system, but was unable to afford it and did not pass.


Yan became the dean of the Naval Academy in Tianjin, established by General Li Hongzhang in 1880 which was modeled on the Fuzhou Dockyard School.


From 1898 to 1909 Yan was best known for his translations of many Western texts that dealt with Social Darwinist into Chinese affecting many intellectuals at the time. He was also the chief supervisor of the Translation Bureau at Peking University from 1902-1904. Translated works include:

* Evolution and Ethics, by Thomas H. Huxley
* The Study of Sociology, by Herbert Spencer
* The Wealth of Nations, by Adam Smith
* On Liberty, by John Stuart Mill
* A History of Politics, by Edward Jenks
* System of Logic, by John Stuart Mill
* The Spirit of the Laws, by Montesquieu
* Primer of Logic, by William Stanley Jevons

Univerisity Administrator:

In 1909 Yan was awarded an honorary by the emperor. In March 1912, he was appointed as President of Peking University and stayed there for seven months but resigned due to cuts in faculty and staff salaries for which he was unable to raise money.
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