Michael Wood (historian)

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Michael Wood
Born (1948-07-23) 23 July 1948 (age 72)
Manchester, Lancashire, England
Occupation Historian, broadcaster, documentary filmmaker
Known for In Search of the Dark Ages (1979)
Great Railway Journeys (1980)
In Search of the Trojan War (1985)
In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great (1998)
The Story of India (2007)
The Story of England (2010)

Michael David Wood (born 23 July 1948) is an English historian and broadcaster. He has presented numerous television documentary series, including Great Railway Journeys (1980), In Search of the Trojan War, Art of the Western World, Legacy: A Search for the Origins of Civilisation, In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great (1998), Conquistadors, In Search of Myths and Heroes and The Story of India (2007). He has also written a number of books on English history including In Search of the Dark Ages, The Domesday Quest, The Story of England and In Search of Shakespeare.[1][2] He is currently a Professor of Public History at the University of Manchester.[3]

Early life and education

Wood was born in Moss Side, Manchester, Lancashire. He attended Heald Place Primary School in Rusholme, Manchester. When he was eight, his family moved to Wythenshawe, where he went to Benchill Primary School and later Manchester Grammar School where he developed an interest in theatre, playing Grusha in the first British amateur production of Brecht's The Caucasian Chalk Circle. He studied A-levels in English, French and History.[4]

He studied History and English at Oriel College, Oxford, touring the USA for six weeks in his final year. He graduated with a second class Bachelor of Arts degree. Later he undertook post-graduate research in Anglo-Saxon History, also at Oriel. Three years into his research for a DPhil, he left to become a journalist with ITV.[1][4]


In the 1970s Wood worked for the BBC in Manchester. He was first a reporter and then an assistant producer on current affairs programmes, before returning to his love of history with his 1979–81 series In Search of the Dark Ages for BBC2. This explored the lives of leaders of the period, including Boadicea, King Arthur, Offa, Alfred the Great, Athelstan, Eric Bloodaxe and William the Conqueror (and gave rise to his first book, based upon the series).[5]

He quickly became popular with female viewers for his blond good looks (he was humorously dubbed "the thinking woman's crumpet" by British newspapers), his deep voice, and his habit of wearing tight jeans and a sheepskin jacket.[citation needed]

Wood's work is also well known in the United States, where it receives much airplay on PBS and on various cable television networks. The series Legacy (1992) is one of his more frequently broadcast documentaries on U.S. television.

In 2006 he joined the British School of Archaeology in Iraq campaign, which aimed to train and encourage new Iraqi archaeologists, and he has lectured on the subject.[6] In 2013, Wood joined the University of Manchester as Professor of Public History.

Since 1990, Michael Wood has been a director of independent television production company Maya Vision International.

Personal life

His partner for several years, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, was journalist and broadcaster Pattie Coldwell.[7][8] He currently lives in north London with his wife, television producer Rebecca Ysabel Dobbs, and two daughters, Minakshi and Jyoti.[9]


Wood was a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society[1] until 2007.[10][11] In 2009, he was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Arts by Sunderland University.[12] This was followed by an honorary Doctorate of Letters from the University of Leicester in 2011.

Television series


  • Darshan: An Indian Journey (1989)
  • Traveller's Tales: The Sacred Way (1991)
  • Saddam's Killing Fields (1993)
  • Secret History: Hitler's Search for the Holy Grail (1999)
  • Gilbert White: Nature Man (2006)
  • Christina: A Medieval Life (2008)
  • Alexander's Greatest Battle (2009)
  • Shakespeare's Mother; The Secret Life of a Tudor Woman (2015)


  • In Search of the Dark Ages (BBC Books, 1981)[13]
  • In Search of the Trojan War (1985)
  • Domesday: A Search for the Roots of England (1988)
  • Legacy: A Search for the Origins of Civilization (1992)
  • The Smile of Murugan: A South Indian Journey (1995)
  • In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great (1997)
  • In Search of England: Journeys Into the English Past (1999)
  • Conquistadors (2000)
  • In Search of Shakespeare (2003)
  • In Search of Myths and Heroes (2005)
  • India: An Epic Journey Across the Subcontinent (2007)
  • The Story of England (2010)

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Michael Wood Biography Public Broadcasting Service (PBS).
  2. Michael Wood visits the HP Visual and Spatial Technology Centre The Institute of Archaeology and Antiquity, University of Birmingham.
  3. "People’s historian becomes Manchester Professor | The University of Manchester". manchester.ac.uk. Retrieved 20 September 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 Passed/Failed: An education in the life of Michael Wood, television historian The Independent, 30 August 2007.
  5. http://www.amazon.com/Search-Dark-Ages-Michael-Wood/dp/0816047022 In Search of the Dark Ages (Revised Edition, 2001)
  6. "Archaeology News : Iraq: Michael Wood lecture at British Museum". The Institute of Field Archaeologists article. Retrieved 3 April 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>[dead link]
  7. Pattie Coldwell: Courageous crusader, BBC News, 18 October 2002
  8. Anthony Hayward, Pattie Coldwell: Obituary, The Independent, 19 October 2002
  9. My Favourite Things: Michael Wood, Daily Express, 4 July 2008 Archived 1 July 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  10. According to Sue Carr, Executive Secretary of the Royal Historical Society Michael Wood ceased to be a Fellow of the RHS in 2007.
  11. "Fellows of the Royal Historical Society". Royal Historical Society. 2012. Retrieved 20 July 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Celebs awarded honorary degrees Shields Gazette, 17 July 2009.
  13. http://www.amazon.com/Search-Dark-Ages-Michael-Wood/dp/0816047022 In Search of the Dark Ages (Revised Edition)

External links