Jung Chang was born in Yibin, Sichuan Province, China, in 1952. She was a red guard briefly at the age of fourteen and then worked as a peasant, a ‘barefoot doctor’, a steelworker, and an electrician before becoming an English language student and, later, an assistant lecturer at Sichuan University. She left China for Britain in 1978 and was subsequently awarded a scholarship by York University, where she obtained a PhD in linguistics in 1982 – the first person from the People’s Republic of China to receive a doctorate from a British university. She is the author of the best-selling Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China, and, along with her husband Jon Halliday, of the biography, Mao: The Unknown Story. Her books have been translated into more than 40 languages and sold more than 15 million copies, in addition to millions in pirated editions and computer downloads in mainland China where both books are banned. Among the many awards she has won are the UK Writers’ Guild Best Non-Fiction (1992) and Book of the Year UK (1993). Her latest book Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China, was published in 2013.