TH2023 Ep 09 Mao Zedong

Season 2023 – Talk 09 – Mao Zedong

In Mao Zedong Alan Freeland tells us about the life of Mao and Chinese Communism until his death in 1976.

Click a thumbnail below to view the image gallery that accompanies the talk.


Mao was born on 26 December 1893 and spends his childhood at Shaoshan village in Hunan. His father, once an impoverished peasant, becomes one of the wealthier farmers in the area. He is a stern disciplinarian who beats Mao, who finds that if he meekly accepts the beating it is worse than when he stands up to his father.

He finishes his primary education at the age of 13 and then, aged 14, his father makes him go through an arranged marriage to 17-year-old Luo Yixiu. Mao refuses to  recognise her as his wife and in later years bans arranged marriages.


In his quest to become a teacher, Mao enrolls at the Fourth Normal School of Changsha. This merges with the First Normal School of Hunan, widely seen as the best in Hunan.

Professor Yang Changji urges him to read the radical New Youth newspaper, written by his friend Chen Duxiu who is a dean at Peking University and also a supporter of Chinese nationalism.

In 1915 the popular Mao is elected secretary of the Students Society where he organises the Association for Student Self-Government and leads protests against school rules.

In April 1917 he publishes his first article in New Youth and instructs his readers to increase their physical strength to serve the revolution. At this time he is also elected to command the students’ volunteer army which defends the school from marauding soldiers.

Becoming more radical:

Mao moves to Beijing, where Yang Changji has taken a job at Peking University. Yang, who thinks that Mao is exceptionally ‘intelligent and handsome’, arranges a job for him as assistant to the university librarian, Li Dazhao. Li is a co-founder of the Chinese Communist party in 1921.

Listen to the podcast and hear the whole story from Andrew.

Unfortunately coughs and colds abounded at the time of this recording and I have not been able to remove all of them..

About this podcast:

This is an edited recording of a talk given to the Farnham u3a World History  Group .

It is frequently not possible to use all of the images presented in the original talk because of copyright reasons.

This podcast is also available through Amazon Music, Apple Podcasts, Castbox, Deezer, PodchaserSpotifyStitcher and Vurbl and others.

AKM Music licenses Media Magazine for use the music in this talk.

© The MrT Podcast Studio and Farnham u3a World History Group 2018 – 2024

Author: Tim D

In the early 1970s Mr Timothy & his Phonograph was a popular mobile disco around Leeds University and Tim was known as MrT. Tim also spent 9 years broadcasting a weekly programme on Hospital Radio in Wakefield. He worked for more than 40 years for large industrial organisations and spent his last 15 years in global commercial management roles. Following retirement he started making podcasts in 2017.