In common with many other works of wisdom from the first millennium or so BCE, the Tao Te Ching goes by the name of a sage, and that name is Lao Tzu, which means (as has been mentioned) 'The Old Master' or 'The Elder Sage'. Whereas Confucius/Kung Fu Tzu is an historical personage, Lao Tzu seems to be a kind of folk memory of the early days of Taoism. The book bearing his name probably reached its current form some half-millennium after the death of Confucius. The reference in the WU above to Chuang Tzu is deserved. Popular wisdom (as it were) has it that he was the immediate successor to Lao Tzu as leader of the Taoists as a philosophical school, but in fact he never refers directly to Lao Tzu in his own work.

It is said that Lao Tzu dictated the work when challenged by the Keeper of the Pass, whose name is sometimes given as Kuan Yin. This, unfortunately, looks identical (in English) to the name of the bodhisattva Kuan Yin, otherwise known as Kwannon, the Japanese 'goddess' of mercy. It is, however, utterly different in Chinese.