NATSUME SŌSEKI, one of Japan's most acclaimed and beloved writers, was born in Tokyo in 1867. After graduating from Tokyo Imperial University with a degree in English literature, he spent a few years teaching in secondary schools on the southern islands of Shikoku and Kyushu. In 1990 he was sent to England by the Japanese government to pursue further literary studies. He returned to Japan in 1903 and became a lecturer in English literature at Tokyo Imperial University, the first native Japanese to hold this post. For the next four years he combined his academic work with the composition of a series of fictional works including the novels I am a Cat, Botchan, and The Three-cornered World, which established him as a writer of major importance. In 1907 he resigned from the university to devote himself to full-time literary work. The lighthearted satirical spirit of some of his early writing gradually gave way to a darker, deeper quality as he probed the themes of solitude, alienation, and other social and psychological consequences of modern life in a series of celebrated novels including Sanshirō, And Then, The Gate, The Wayfarer, and Kokoro. He died in 1916.