Little is known with certainty about The Tale of Genji except that it has existed and been held in high esteem for almost a millennium. We will probably never known exactly when the author lived, and almost certainly we will never know exactly when she wrote her book and in what form it emerged from her pen - or, more properly, her brush. Most if not all of it was probably written in the early eleventh century AD by a court lady known as Murasaki Shikibu. A diary from the mid eleventh century establishes that it existed by then as a work of 'more than fifty chapters'. The accepted count today is fifty-four. There is no holograph of even the smallest fragment. All recensions must be based on texts from several centuries later.