This is an intellectual biography of the early life and missionary career of James Legge (1815-1897), a monumental figure in 19
century European sinology. In the first volume details about Legge’s family, religious setting, and educational experiences in northeastern Scotland are shown to anchor his intellectual interests, shaping his later religious transformation and commitment to Chinese missionary work. The trials, adjustments and initial missionary strategies of the Legge family’s first years in Malacca and the new colony of Hongkong (1840-1848) bring this volume to a close. In the second volume the flourishing of Legge’s missionary scholarship is cast in the context of his application of «principles» of Scottish Nonconformism and Scottish realist philosophy to many unexpected aspects of the Hongkong and Chinese contexts. While his sinological scholarship has weathered more than a century of criticism and neglect, Legge’s unexpected emergence into roles as a Scottish Nonconformist prophet and counter-cultural folk hero in Hongkong reveal new dimensions of Protestant missions in China which challenge standard Orientalist interpretations of cultural imperialism.