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Robert Van Gulik was born in the Netherlands in 1910. He was educated at the Universities of Leyden and Utrecht, and served in the Dutch diplomatic service in China and Japan for many years. His interest in Asian languages and art led him to the discovery of Chinese detective novels and to the historical character of Judge Dee, famous in ancient Chinese annals as a scholar-magistrate. Van Gulik subsequently began writing the Judge Dee series of novels that have so captivated mystery readers ever since. He died of cancer in 1967.