Born and educated in Ireland, Max Arthur Macauliffe (1841-1913) joined the Indian Civil Service in 1862. In 1882 he was promoted to the post of deputy commissioner of the Punjab. But it was after he retired from the civil service in 1893 that he gained public attention. Macauliffe developed a close affinity with Sikhism while in the Punjab, eventually converting to the religion.
Following this project, he set to work on this six-volume set, covering the history and philosophy of Sikhism, first published in 1909 and still regarded as the definitive work on the subject. The volumes cover the lives and compositions of the Sikh gurus, as well as the Hindu and Muslim saints who contributed to the Sikh holy book.