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Frances Wood is an English historian known for her writings on Chinese history, including Marco Polo, life in the Chinese treaty ports, and the First Emperor of China. She has argued in her 1995 book, Did Marco Polo go to China?, that the book of Marco Polo (Il Milione) is not the account of a single person, but is a collection of travellers' tales. On May 24 2012, she appeared on In Our Time on Radio Four, talking about Marco Polo. In December 2012 she appeared on the Christmas University Challenge special as a member of the Newnham College, Cambridge team.
Wood was born in London in the late 1940s, and went to art school in Liverpool in 1967, before going to Newnham College, Cambridge University where she studied Chinese. She went to China to study Chinese in 1975–1976.
Wood is currently Curator of Chinese collections at the British Library in London, England. She is also a member of the Steering Committee of the International Dunhuang Project, and the editor of the Transactions of the Oriental Ceramic Society.
- 1985 Chinese illustration. British Library. ISBN 978-0-7123-0053-7 [Amazon-US | Amazon-UK]
- 1991 (with Norah M. Titley). Oriental Gardens. British Library. ISBN 978-0-7123-0239-5 [Amazon-US | Amazon-UK]
- 1995. Did Marco Polo go to China?. Secker & Warburg. ISBN 978-0-436-20384-8 [Amazon-US | Amazon-UK]
- 2000. Hand-grenade practice in Peking: my part in the Cultural Revolution. John Murray. ISBN 978-0-7195-5781-1 [Amazon-US | Amazon-UK]
- 2000. No Dogs and Not Many Chinese: Treaty Port Life in China, 1843-1943. John Murray. ISBN 978-0-7195-6400-0 [Amazon-US | Amazon-UK]
- 2002. The Silk Road: Two Thousand Years in the Heart of Asia. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-23786-5 [Amazon-US | Amazon-UK]
- 2005. The Forbidden City. British Museum Press. ISBN 978-0-7141-2789-7 [Amazon-US | Amazon-UK]
- 2007. The First Emperor of China. Profile Books. ISBN 978-1-84668-032-8 [Amazon-US | Amazon-UK]
- 2008. China's First Emperor and His Terracotta Warriors. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 978-0-312-38112-7 [Amazon-US | Amazon-UK]
- 2009. The Lure of China: Writers from Marco Polo to J. G. Ballard. Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-15436-8 [Amazon-US | Amazon-UK]
- 2010 (with Mark Barnard). The Diamond Sutra: The Story of the World's Earliest Dated Printed Book. British Library. ISBN 978-0-7123-5090-7 [Amazon-US | Amazon-UK]