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Frances Wood

Writer and historian Frances Wood joins Kirsty Young to choose her Desert Island Discs.

Kirsty Young's castaway is the writer and historian Frances Wood.

As head of the Chinese collection at the British Library she is the gatekeeper to some of the rarest printed texts in the world. Her life has been immersed in the language and culture of the Far East and, along the way, she's spent time learning how to throw hand-grenades, plant rice in the paddy-fields and bundle Chinese cabbages.

She was in China in the final months of Mao Zedong's regime and remembers being aware of the sense of national unease: "There were the bodies that floated down the Pearl River to Hong Kong - you did get a real sense of foreboding. You did know that the whole country was on edge."

Producer: Leanne Buckle

Record: Don Carlos
Book: A copy of Chinese dictionary Cihai, (which means Sea of Words) from the 1930s
Luxury: The War Memorial outside Euston Station.

Available now

45 minutes

Last on

Fri 10 Dec 2010 09:00

Music Played

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  • Nuns and Monks of the Temple

    Diamond Sutra

    Composer: trad. Buddhist text produced in China in AD 868

    • British Library.
  • Georges Brassens

    Ballade des Dames du Temps de Jadis

    Composer: G Brassens

    • George Brassens: The Vent….
    • Philips.
  • Paco Ibáñez

    Mi Nina Se Fue a la Mare – My Girl Went Off to the Sea

    Composer: Frederico Garcia Lorca

    • Paco Ibanez -1.
    • Emen?.
  • The Beatles

    Penny Lane

    Composer: Lennon/McCartney

    • The Beatles 1.
    • Apple.
  • Piano Red

    Right String Baby but the Wrong Yo-Yo

    Composer: Finnell

    • Diggin' The Boogie 1950-1956.
    • Revola.
  • Unknown

    Chinese exercise music

    Composer: unknown

    • Chinese import.
    • unknown.
  • Tom Lehrer

    Wernher von Braun

    Composer: Tom Lehrer

    • The Remains of Tom Lehrer.
    • RHINO.
  • Castaway's Favourite

    • Giuseppe Verdi

      Ella giammai m'amò (from Don Carlos)

      Artist: Nicolai Ghiaurov (with the Berlin Philharmonic conducted by Herbert Von Karajan

      • Don Carlos.
      • EMI.
  • Book Choice

    • A copy of Chinese dictionary Cihai, (which means Sea of Words) from the 1930s

  • Luxury Choice

    • The War Memorial outside Euston Station

Credits

Role Contributor
Presenter Kirsty Young
Interviewed Guest Frances Wood

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