William George Aston was born on the 9th of April 1841 just outside of Derry. From 1859 to 1863 he attended Queen's University Belfast where he distinguished himself as a promising scholar.
In 1864 he was employed by the British Legation in Japan as a student interpreter. He carried out a number of studies of the Japanese language and in 1884 passed the necessary exams and entered into the consular service, working in Tokyo, Kobe, and Nagasaki. He later went on to work as a consul-general in Koream where he was the first European diplomat to take up residence in the country, before returning to Tokyo in 1885. After a period of illness, Aston made the decision to retire from his consular work and relocate to England.
Whilst in Japan, Aston made great contributions to the spreading of Japanese literalure by translating a number of works into English. During his years of retirement, he published books on Japanese language and customs.
William George Aston died on the 22nd of November 1911 in Devon, England.
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