Needham was trained as a biochemist and received a doctorate from Cambridge University at the age of 25. As an intellectual prodigy on track for a conventional, successful career, his life suddenly changed. With the help of Lu Gwei-djen, a woman scientist who came to work with him in 1936, he mastered notorious diﬃculties of the Chinese language. She became his lover, conﬁdant, and some 50 years later his wife. For three years in the 1940s he traveled extensively in parts of China to collect data and artifacts relating to ancient and medieval science, visiting nearly 300 college libraries and research centers. He met two brilliant young men, Wang Ling and Huang Tsing Tsung, who became helpers and guides. With their steady collaboration, and that of Lu Gwei-djen, he devoted subsequent years to documenting and explaining the astonishing history of Chinese science and technology.