The author of this work, Ding Yan (1794–1875), was a native of Shanyang (part of present-day Huai’an, Jiangsu Province), an accomplished scholar, and a government official. After achieving the rank of ju ren, a successful candidate at the provincial level examination, but failing to acquire his jin shi (doctoral degree), he declined minor official appointments and returned to Shanyang, where he became active in local affairs. In 1842 he led the local civilian corps in defense of his city, confronted the British fleet that had entered the Yangtze River, and took charge of the repair of the city walls. In 1843 he was awarded the title of secretary of the Grand Secretariat. Ten years later he defended his city again, this time against the Taiping rebels. In 1853 he was accused of committing errors in organizing the militia, and he was sentenced and banished but later released. In 1861 Ding was formally appointed, by imperial decree for his efforts in defending Shanyang, to serve on the commission for training the civilian corps in northern Jiangsu, and he eventually gained the title of an official of the second rank. He was public spirited and contributed to famine relief and the dredging of waterways. He advocated the issuance of paper money and the strict prohibition of opium. He also headed several local academies and was one of the chief compilers of the local histories of Shanyang. Ding was mainly renowned for his scholarship and literary accomplishments. Some 50 works attributed to him are known, of which 23 were collected in 1862 under the title of Yi zhi zhai cong shu (Collected works of Yizhizhai Studio). His poems and short essays in 16 juan, entitled Yi zhi zhai shi wen ji (Collected poems and essays of Yizhizhai Studio), was never printed. Scholar and archaeologist Luo Zhenyu (1866–1940) acquired a manuscript copy of this author’s work from Ding’s descendants, from which in 1915 he selected and printed one juan of Ding’s essays and one juan of his poems. The Library of Congress edition is a Qing manuscript that retained the original title. It has a number of prefaces, poems, and inscriptions written by various scholars and men of letters. Among them are Ding’s own preface (dated 1832) and those by Zhou Ji (dated 1836) and Sheng Dashi (1824), poems by Pan Deyu (1828) and Wang Gui (1831), as well as inscriptions by Zhu Qi (1844) and Huang Juezi (1836). There are also handwritten markings that could have been in Ding Yan’s own hand.