One Minute With: Michael Wood, historian

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The Independent Culture

Where are you now and what can you see?

I'm in our office in that little warren of streets around Smithfield market. I can see across the rooftops to St Bartholmew's church.

What are you currently reading?

When I go home in the evening I tend to read things in completely different areas. I've been enjoying [translator and scholar] David Shulman's wonderful diary of South India ['Spring, Heat, Rains']. And I have re-read two books by the Arab poet Adonis. He wrote an amazing book about Sufism and Surrealism. And Laurie Maguire's 'Helen of Troy: from Homer to Hollywood'.

Choose a favourite author and say why you like her/ him

I really love the modern Greeks, such as CP Cavafy. I love the conjuring of the ancient world in the modern... His articulation of the sensibility of the pre-monotheistic world is just fantastic.

Describe the room where you usually write

At the kitchen table, in a large Victorian room looking out over a garden with huge chestnut trees. When they're in blossom with the candles, it's like a white waterfall.

What distracts you from writing?

Radio 4; and the news, if it's exciting, either on the computer or TV.

Which fictional character most resembles you?

In Shakespeare's plays, I tend to identify with slightly marginal and peripheral characters, like Enobarbus in 'Antony and Cleopatra' - people caught up in great events.

What are your readers like when you meet them?

I've been making these documentaries for 30 years and have clocked up 100 so far. There's still as great a thirst to know. I call them the "dear audience" – the dear, intelligent general public who watch these kind of shows and read these kind of books.

Who is your hero or heroine?

Shakespeare – in terms of who I'd like to have an evening with in the pub. Not that he'd tell anything about himself!

Michael Wood's book of 'The Story of England' is published by Viking; the series continues on BBC4 and BBC2