About Michael Wood

Photo © Joanna Vestey

Brief Biography

Michael Wood is known to television viewers as the writer and host of many critically acclaimed series on PBS, including Art of the Western World, Legacy, Conquistadors, Shakespeare and In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great. He is author of eighty TV films that have been seen worldwide, and of several best selling and highly praised books.

He was born in Manchester, England and educated at Manchester Grammar School and Oriel College Oxford where he did postgraduate research in English medieval history. He had ambitions to be a medieval historian but was drawn away by television and the possibilities of popularising history, which has always been his great passion. Since then he has worked as a journalist, broadcaster and filmmaker, mainly for the BBC and PBS. His films have centred on history, but have included travel--Great Railway Journeys of the World and the BAFTA award winning River Journeys; politics--Saddam's Latest War, an award winning account of the destruction of the Marsh Arabs of South Iraq; and cultural history--Hitler's Search for the Holy Grail, a study of the abuse of history and archaeology under the Nazis, all of which were shown on PBS.

Among Michael's special interests Greece has always figured prominently since he hitched around the country in his teens and slept out on the unforgettable mountainsides of Mistra, Arcadia and Crete. Over the years he has made 15 films about Greek history, among them the Emmy nominated In Search of the Trojan War on the archaeology of Homer and the Greek Bronze Age, and In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great (both published in the US by the University of California Press). His film The Sacred Way was a close up look at the ancient road from Athens to Eleusis, and more recently, in In Search of Myths and Heroes (also published by UCP.) he retraced the mythic journey of Jason and the Argonauts from Greece to Georgia in the Caucasus among other stories. His books have been translated into a number of European languages, including Greek.

Michael's academic background was in English history and among his publications here are In Search of the Dark Ages (1981 and later editions) and Doomsday (1986, new ed 1999); he was also contributor to Ideal and Reality in Frankish and Anglo-Saxon Society (Oxford 1984) and has a chapter in a forthcoming work: Literacy and Lay Intellectuals in Early Medieval Europe (Cambridge University Press). On this last subject he lectured to the Conference of International Medievalists in Michigan in 2000. His most recent book of medieval essays is In Search of England (University of California Press 2000). His current TV project, The Story of India, has just aired in the UK and will transmit on PBS in 2008 (the book is published in the US by Basic Books).

Michael is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, a Governor of The Royal Shakespeare Company and holds honorary doctorates from four UK universities. He lives in North London with his wife Rebecca, an award winning film producer and director: Rebecca and Michael have worked together as filmmakers and writers and as directors of a small film and television company for the last twenty years. They have two teenage daughters who also love going to Greece, sailing the 'wine dark sea' and walking the old pine-scented donkey tracks of the Cycladic islands.


The Story of India (2007)
In Search of Myths and Heroes (2005)
In Search of Shakespeare (2003)
Conquistadors (2000)
In Search of England (1999)
In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great (1997)
The Smile of Murugan: A South Indian Journey (1995)
Legacy: In Search of the Origins of Civilisation (1992)
Art of the Western World (1989), Introductory Essay
Green and Pleasant Land:The Photographs of John Davies (1987)
Domesday (1986)
The World Atlas of Archaeology (1985), Editor
In Search of the Trojan War (1985)
Shakespeare in Perspective (1984), Contributor
River Journeys (1984), Contributor
Great Little Railways (1983), Contributor
Ideal and Reality in Frankish and Anglo-Saxon Society (1983), Contributor
Great Railway Journeys of the World (1981)
In Search of the Dark Ages (1981)


The Story of India (2007)
Gilbert White--The Nature Man (2006)
In Search of Myths and Heroes (2005)
Top Ten Egypt (2003)
In Search of Shakespeare (2003)
Conquistadors (2000)
Hitler's Search for the Holy Grail (1999)
In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great (1997)
Saddam's Killing Fields (1993)
In Search of the Trojan War (1985)
In Search of Alfred the Great (1981)
In Search of Eric Bloodaxe (1981)
In Search of Arthur (1980)
In Search of Offa (1979)

(Updated 12October 2007)

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