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Edwin George "Ted" Pulleyblank FRSC (August 7, 1922 – April 13, 2013) was a Canadian sinologist and professor at the University of British Columbia.[1][2] He was known for his studies of the historical phonology of Chinese.

Life and career

Edwin G. "Ted" Pulleyblank was born on August 7, 1922, in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. His father, William George Edwin Pulleyblank, was a teacher of mathematics who later became a school vice-principal, and his mother, Ruth Pulleyblank, had also been a teacher. Pulleyblank was an avid student with a bright intellect and an excellent memory for details, and taught himself Ancient Greek while in high school.[3] He matriculated at the University of Alberta in 1939 on an Alberta provincial government scholarship, and majored in the Latin and Greek Classics while also tutoring other students in math and physics in his spare time.[3]

Pulleyblank graduated in 1942 at the height of World War II. Noticing his aptitude for both mathematics and foreign languages, one of Pulleyblank's professors offered him a chance to do "secret war work", which he accepted. On February 22, 1943 Pulleyblank joined the Examination Unit in Ottawa. This Unit was the civilian codebreaking unit of the Canadian Government. On May 13, 1943 Pulleyblank was sent to England to train with the Government Code and Cipher School at Bletchley Park. He returned to Canada and on December 12, 1943 joined the Japanese Diplomatic Section of the Examination Unit,[4] and later began studying Chinese at Carleton University.[5]

In 1946, Pulleyblank received a Chinese government[which?] scholarship to study Chinese at the School of African and Oriental Studies, University of London, where he stayed for two years. In 1948, the SOAS made Pulleyblank a Lecturer in Classical Chinese, even though he would later recall that his command of Japanese was at that time still better than his Chinese. He taught courses while pursuing doctoral studies under the German sinologist Walter Simon, and received a Ph.D. in 1951 with a dissertation entitled "The Background and Early Life of An Lu-shan".[6]

Pulleyblank spent a year doing research at libraries in Tokyo and Kyoto, Japan, and also did additional studies in Chinese at Cambridge University, receiving an M.A. in 1953. In 1953, at only 31 years old, Pulleyblank was given the position of Chair of Chinese at Cambridge, which he held for 13 years. Pulleyblank and his wife wanted to return to North America, and so in 1966 he left Cambridge to join the Asian Studies faculty at the University of British Columbia, where he remained until his retirement in 1987.[7]

Selected works