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About John

John Minford is a sinologist and literary translator. He is primarily known for his translations of Chinese classics such as The Story of the Stone and The Art of War. John's recent work includes a translation of the famous Chinese divination text, the I Ching, published in October 2014, and a new version of the Tao Te Ching, to be published in December 2018.

John Minford was educated at Winchester College and Balliol College, Oxford, where he graduated in 1968 with a First Class Honours degree in Chinese Studies. Over the subsequent 15 years he worked closely with David Hawkes on the Penguin Classics version of the 18th-century novel The Story of the Stone 紅樓夢, translating the last forty chapters. He went to Canberra in 1977 and studied for his PhD under the late Liu Ts’unyan 柳存仁. He went on to translate for Penguin a selection from Pu Songling’s Strange Tales 聊齋志異 and Sunzi’s The Art of War 孫子兵法. From 2006 to 2016, he was Professor of Chinese at the School of Culture, History and Language in the  ANU College of Asia and the Pacific, where since his retirement he is now an Emeritus Professor. John now lives in his home in New Zealand's Wairarapa region, with his three dogs, Maisie, Rusty and Nelson. His time is divided between translating more Strange Tales in his library, Three Dog Hall 三犬堂, pottering around in the garden, playing the piano, walking by Lake Wairarapa, and occasional trips into Wellington. He spends part of each year at Fontmarty, his old home in Southern France.




  • 1980 Translation of Miao Yüeh 繆越, “The Chinese Lyric 論詞”, in Soong ed., Song Without Music: Chinese Tz’u Poetry, Hong Kong, Chinese UP, 25-44.

  • 1982 Translation of Cao Xueqin 曹雪芹 & Gao E 高鶚, The Story of the Stone 紅樓夢, vol 4, The Debt of Tears. Penguin Classics & Indiana University Press, 400 pp.

  • 1984 Edited (with Stephen C. Soong 宋淇) Trees on the Mountain: An Anthology of New Chinese Writing, Chinese University Press, Hong Kong, 396 pp.

  • 1986 Edited (with Geremie Barmé) Seeds of Fire: Chinese Voices of Conscience 火種, Far Eastern Economic Review, Hong Kong, 347 pp.

  • 1986 Translation of Cao Xueqin & Gao E, The Story of the Stone 紅樓夢, vol 5, The Dreamer Wakes. Penguin Classics & Indiana University Press, 385 pp.

  • 1987 Edited (with Siu-kit Wong) Chinese: Classical, Modern and Humane - Collected Essays of David Hawkes, Hong Kong, Chinese University Press, 327 pp.

  • 1987 Edited and translated (with Pang Bingjun & Séan Golden) One Hundred Modern Chinese Poems 中國現代詩一百首. Commercial Press, Hong Kong, 348 pp.

  • 1995 “Pieces of Eight: Reflections on Translating The Story of the Stone”, in Eoyang and Lin eds., Translating Chinese Literature, Indiana University Press, 178-203.

  • 1997 Translation of Louis Cha (Jin Yong 金庸), The Deer and the Cauldron: A Martial Arts Novel 鹿鼎記, The First Book. Oxford University Press, Hong Kong, xxxiii & 475 pp.

  • 1998 “The Chinese Garden: Death of a Symbol”, in Studies in the History of Gardens and Designed Landscapes (vol 18, no. 3), 257-268.

  • 1999 “Death in Macau: In Defence of Orientalism”, in Günter Wohlfart et al. eds., Translation und Interpretation, Munich, Wilhelm Fink, 143-156.

  • 1999 Translation of Louis Cha (Jin Yong 金庸), The Deer and the Cauldron: A Martial Arts Novel, The Second Book. Oxford University Press, Hong Kong, xxxi & 564 pp.

  • 2000 Edited (with Joseph S.M.Lau) Chinese Classical Literature: An Anthology of Translations. 1st vol, New York & Hong Kong, Columbia UP & Chinese UP, lix & 1176 pp. 2nd vol, forthcoming.

  • 2002 Translation of Sunzi, The Art of War 孫子兵法. New York, Viking Books. Lvi & 325 pp. (subsequent paperback, Penguin Classics, 2003).

  • 2002 Translation of Louis Cha (Jin Yong 金庸), The Deer and the Cauldron: A Martial Arts Novel, The Third Book. Oxford University Press, Hong Kong, xlix & 535 pp. With Rachel May.

  • 2003 Edited (with Rachel May) A Birthday Book for Brother Stone: For David Hawkes at Eighty. Chinese University Press, xi & 365 pp.

  • 2005 Translation of Soong Hsun-leng 宋訓倫, The Fragrant Hermitage 馨菴詞稿. Twenty-nine Lyric Poems, Taiwan, SKS. 

  • 2006 Translation of Pu Songling 蒲松齡, Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio 聊齋誌異, London, Penguin Classics, xxxviii + 562 pp. (including lengthy introduction, glossary and bibliography).

  • 2007 Translation of (with Brian Holton and Agnes Hung-chong Chan) Leung Ping-kwan, Islands and Continents: Short Stories. Hong Kong University Press, xviii and 128 pp.

  • 2008 Translation of Thirty Classical Chinese Fables, Monte James, Beijing.

  • 2014 Translation of I Ching, The Book of Changes 周易, Viking/Penguin Classics, New  York.

  • 2018 Translation of Lao--Tzu, Tao Te Ching 道德經, Viking-Penguin, New York.

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