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Papers of Magnus Magnusson.

Identifier: Acc.13542/1-1198

Scope and Contents

This archive contains the papers of Magnusson Magnusson (1929-2007), broadcaster, scholar, author and environmentalist accumulated over the course of his career. After embarking on a career in journalism in the 1950s Magnusson moved into television in the-mid 1960s where he presented such programmes as "Chronicle" which was dedicated to achaeological discoveries. Magnusson may be best known for his role of quizmaster on the long-running BBC show Mastermind. Magnusson had a strong connection to his Icelandic ancestry and produced many works on Icelandic literature. He was also a noted translator, bringing the work of the Nobel prize winning author Halldór Laxness to the English speaking world. Magnusson also had a deep commitment to envionrmental concerns both nationally in Scotland, and internationally. He was the first Chair of the newly formed Scottish Natural Heritage (NatureScot from August 2020) and served in this capacity from 1992 until 1999.

The archive reflects the wide variety of Magnusson's interests throughout his life. The collection contains material on most, but not all, of his publications, as well as his translation work on the Icelandic sagas and the novels of Halldór Laxness. There are numbers of scripts and research notes covering Magnusson's broadcasting career on both television and radio, including significant numbers of scripts from his time on "Chronicle". The archive also contains files relating to Magnusson's research on a wide variety of topics relating to both Scotland and Iceland. Almost a third of this archive concerns Magnusson's involvement with Scottish Natural Heritage, both in his official capacity as the organisation's Chairman, but also his own research into the natural heritage of Scotland which was often the basis for speeches delivered at various events. At the end of the archive are a number of personal papers of Magnusson's, and material on posts that he held at Universities and with other cultural insitutions.


  • Creation: circa 1948-2006.


Conditions Governing Access

Normal access conditions apply.

Conditions Governing Use

Normal reproduction conditions apply, subject to any copyright restrictions, with the exception that the Library maintains a blanket ban on creating copies or photographs of photocopied or copied materials. Further information is available from the Archives and Manuscript Division.


37.50 Linear metres

Language of Materials



The papers have been arranged primarily by the main areas of Magnusson's career: his publications and translation work, his television and radio career, his involvement with Mastermind, his research notes for speeches, his role at Scottish Natural Heritage, his personal papers, and his papers relating to posts held at universities and cultural institutions. This order represents the order the Magnusson himself imposed on his archive, for example, devoting a separate section to Mastermind, rather than include it in the sequence relating to his television work. Within these sections Magnusson tended to organise his files in alphabetical order, and wherever possible this order has been maintained. Magnusson did have a number of miscellaneous files that were not placed in any particluar order and these files have been listed chronologically as far as possible.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Presented, Sally Magnusson, Balmore, 2014.10 September 2014

National Library of Scotland Catalogue of Manuscripts
National Library of Scotland
23 12 2014
Description rules
Finding Aid Prepared Using Local Descriptive Rules
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the National Library of Scotland Archives and Manuscripts Division Repository

Archives and Manuscript Division
National Library of Scotland
George IV Bridge
Edinburgh EH1 1EJ
0131 623 3700