forthcoming events

The Diamond Sutra: The Story of the World's Earliest Dated Printed Book by Dr Frances Wood
金剛般若波羅蜜多經, 世界上最早的印刷書

Date: Tuesday, 8th March, 2011
Venue: Vernon Square, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), Penton Rise, London, WC1X 9EW (Please note: venue is at branch campus, not main campus) Map
Transport: The nearest tube station is King's Cross
Time: 6.30 pm – pre-talk tea (in Room V201), 7– 8 pm talk (in Room V211)
Cost: Meridian Society members: free; non-members’ donation: £5, pay at door

Please book in advance.

Dr Frances Wood, head of the Chinese collection at the British Library, will talk about the subject of her latest book, The Diamond Sutra: The Story of the World's Earliest Dated Printed Book


 ‘The Diamond Sutra’ is the world’s earliest, dated, printed book. It was produced in AD 868, some 600 years before Gutenberg’s movable type printing in Europe. Discovered in 1907 at the Caves of the Thousand Buddhas near Dunhuang on the edge of the Gobi desert, it was brought back to London by Sir Aurel Stein in 1909. Frances Wood describes for the first time the story of its production, meaning, discovery and significance as well as recent conservation work.

Dr Frances Wood is the author of many books on China and a frequent visitor to China. She studied Chinese at Newnham College Cambridge in the late 1960s. After graduating, she spent a year studying in Beijing in the mid-70s, where she collected material for her PhD thesis on the construction and architecture of a traditional Chinese courtyard house in Peking University. Back in London, she worked as a librarian in the Chinese section of the SOAS library, before going to work in the British Library, where she is Curator of the Chinese Collection.

Her main publications include The Blue Guide to China (1990, revised 2002) Did Marco Polo go to China? (1996), No Dogs and Not Many Chinese: Treaty Port life in China 1843-1943 (1998), The Silk Road (2002),The First Emperor of China (2007), The Lure of China (2009) and (with Mark Barnard) The Diamond Sutra: the story of the world's earliest dated printed book (2010). 
Frances has participated in the radio programme 'In our Time', discussing the complexities of Chinese history, and more recently, was interviewed in 'Desert Island Discs'. Her aim and achievement in writing and speaking about China is to write and speak more popularly than academically about China, its history and culture.

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