Born in Ireland, William Marsden (1754–1836) was a pioneer in the study of oriental languages, in particular those of modern-day Malaysia and Indonesia. At the age of seventeen he joined his elder brother to work for the East India Company in Sumatra, and began researching the languages of the East Indies. He moved to London in 1779 and became associated with its scientific and academic circles, attending meetings of the Royal Society and becoming a friend of Sir Joseph Banks. This gave him access to vocabularies compiled by naval officers, and these, combined with his own observations, allowed him to produce the pioneering works that made his reputation. (His History of Sumatra and Dictionary of the Malayan Language are also reissued in this series.) First published in 1796, this work helped to fuel the growing interest in languages and philology at the turn of the nineteenth century.