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James Robinson

James Robinson is the curator of late medieval collections in the British Museum's Department of Prehistory and Europe.

The Game of Kings Exhibition Blog

Under Their Spell

James Robinson, Curator of Late Medieval Collections, Department of Prehistory and Europe, The British Museum

Posted: Friday, February 17, 2012

From the very moment of their discovery in 1831, the Lewis Chessmen have captured the imagination of all who encounter them. Local legend relates how the peasant who first unearthed them from a sand dune in Uig Bay ran for his life, fearing that they were sprites or elves. The chessmen have certainly worked their magic over the years, acting not only as inspiration to writers of fiction but also to filmmakers and the occasional museum curator.

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The Game of Kings Exhibition Blog

Madden's Moves

James Robinson, Curator of Late Medieval Collections, Department of Prehistory and Europe, The British Museum

Posted: Friday, January 20, 2012

Sir Frederic Madden (1801–1873), the man who orchestrated the purchase of the Lewis Chessmen, was one of the most accomplished curators in the history of the British Museum and Library (which were linked from 1753 to 1973). Madden first worked at the library in 1826 on the classified catalogue of printed books. His brilliance as a reader of medieval scripts and his great knowledge of manuscripts saw him rise to Assistant Keeper in 1828 before taking up the keepership of the Department of Manuscripts in 1837.

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About this Blog

This blog accompanied the special exhibition The Game of Kings: Medieval Ivory Chessmen from the Isle of Lewis, on view at The Cloisters November 15, 2011–April 22, 2012.