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Julia Lovell (born 1975) is a scholar and prize-winning author and translator about China.


Life and careerEdit

Lovell is Professor of modern Chinese history and literature at Birkbeck, University of London, where her research has been focused principally on the relationship between culture (specifically, literature, architecture, historiography and sport) and modern Chinese nation-building.[1]

Lovell's books include The Politics of Cultural Capital: China's Quest for a Nobel Prize in Literature (University of Hawaii Press, 2006); The Great Wall: China Against the World 1000 BC-AD 2000 (Atlantic Books, 2006);[2] and The Opium War: Drugs, Dreams and the Making of China (Picador, 2011).

Lovell is also a literary translator; her translations include works by Lu Xun, Han Shaogong, Eileen Chang and Zhu Wen. Zhu Wen's book I Love Dollars and Other Stories of China, which Lovell translated, was a finalist for the Kiriyama Prize in 2008.[3] Her book The Opium War : Drugs, Dreams and the Making of China won the Jan Michalski Prize for Literature. It was the first non-fiction book to win the prize.[4]

She was awarded a Philip Leverhulme Prize in 2010 in the category of Medieval, Early Modern, and Modern History. These prizes are given to young scholars who have made a significant contribution to their field.[5]

Lovell has written articles about China for The Guardian, The Times (London), The Economist, and The Times Literary Supplement.[6]


Lovell's book The Opium Wars: Drugs, Dreams and the Making of China was widely reviewed in both scholarly journals and the press. Matthew W. Mosca, writing in the Journal of Asian Studies, wrote that the Opium War had "once ranked among the most studied events in Chinese history," but interest had notably declined. Lovell, he said, suggested that there were still holes in English language coverage and that Chinese scholarly and popular interest in the war has, if anything, grown. Lovell, he concludes, "is certainly correct that the Opium War, as an event in the round, has been curiously neglected in Western scholarship" and hers is "the only book-length general history of the conflict in English by an author directly consulting both Chinese and Western sources." He noted that the book devoted much space to explaining how 20th century politics, especially under the Nationalist Party government of Chiang Kai-shek, used these events to build patriotic sentiment.[7] Oxford University professor Rana Mitter wrote in The Guardian that Lovell's book "is part of a trend in understanding the British empire and China's role in it," and that the "sense of an unfolding tragedy, explicable but inexorable, runs through the book, making it a gripping read as well as an important one."[8] A reviewer inThe Economist commented: "Julia Lovell’s excellent new book explores why this period of history is so emotionally important for the Chinese" and "more importantly” explains “how China turned the Opium Wars into a founding myth of its struggle for modernity."[9]

Jeffrey Wasserstrom wrote in Time magazine that Lovell's translation of the works of Lu Xun "could be considered the most significant Penguin Classic ever published." [10]

Awards and honorsEdit

Selected worksEdit

  • Lovell, Julia (2006). The Politics of Cultural Capital : China's Quest for a Nobel Prize in Literature. Honolulu: University of Hawai*i Press. ISBN 978-0824829629.
  • —— (2006). The Great Wall : China against the World, 1000 BC-Ad 2000. New York; Berkeley, Calif.: Grove Press. ISBN 978-0802118141.
  • —— (2011). Opium War. London: Picador. ISBN 9780330537858.
  • —— (2019). Maoism: A Global History. New York: Knopf. ISBN 9780525656043.


  • Han, Shaogong (2003). A Dictionary of Maqiao. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0231127448.
  • Zhu, Wen (2007). I Love Dollars and Other Stories of China. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0231136945.
  • Zhang, Ailing (2007). Lust, Caution : The Story. New York: Anchor Books. ISBN 978-0307387448.
  • Yan, Lianke (2007). Serve the People!. New York, NY: Black Cat. ISBN 9780802170446.
  • Lu, Xun (2009). The Real Story of Ah-Q and Other Tales of China : The Complete Fiction of Lu Xun. London; New York: Penguin. ISBN 9780140455489.


  1. ^ "Professor Julia Lovell — Department of History, Classics and Archaeology, Birkbeck, University of London". Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  2. ^ Eric Abrahamsen (2015-10-22). "Julia Lovell". Retrieved 2016-06-13.
  3. ^ "Finalists". The Kiriyama Prize.
  4. ^ a b "The Jan MIchalski Prize for Literature 2012".
  5. ^ a b "Awards made in 2010" (PDF).
  6. ^ "Penguin Classics". Penguin Classics. Retrieved 2016-06-13.
  7. ^ Mosca, Matthew W. (2015). "The Opium War: Drugs, Dreams and the Making of China. By Julia Lovell". The Journal of Asian Studies. 74 (2): 472–474. doi:10.1017/S0021911815000212.
  8. ^ Rana Mitter, “The Opium War (A review), The Guardian September 2, 2011
  9. ^ Be Careful What you Wish For,” The Economist October 29, 2011
  10. ^ "China’s Orwell." Time Magazine 174,22 (Dec 7, 2009).
  11. ^ "Dr Julia Lovell". University of London website. Retrieved 9 August 2015.
  12. ^ "Le Prix Jan Michalski 2012 attribué à Julia Lovell". Le Temps (in French). November 22, 2012. Retrieved November 23, 2012.[permanent dead link]

External linksEdit