I was generously assisted at key moments by a number of scholars and academics: first and foremost, by Sally Church, who solved so many of my classical Chinese traumas, suggested maps and sources, and provided fantastically detailed and constructive criticism of the completed manuscript, thereby saving it from any number of errors. Frances Wood also gave the book an astonishingly precise and close reading, for which I am deeply grateful. Joe McDermott, Roel Sterckx and Hans van de Ven all patiently fielded a stream of inquiries from me about facts and sources, while Charles Aylmer, the exceptional librarian of the Chinese department at the Cambridge University Library, amazed me time and again with his encyclopaedic bibliographical knowledge of any area of Chinese history I asked him about. Ruth Scurr and Hannah Dawson gave me invaluable help and advice on the Enlightenment. Many thanks also to Chee Lay Tan, for help with poetry translations. All errors and shortcomings that remain are of course my own.
The book was completed during a research fellowship held at Queens’ College, Cambridge. Over the past two and a half years, I have benefited greatly from the relaxed, supportive research atmosphere of this college community.
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