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Magnússon, Magnús 1929-

MAGNÚSSON, Magnús 1929-

PERSONAL: Born October 12, 1929, in Reykjavik, Iceland; son of Sigursteinn (Icelandic Counsul-General for Scotland) and Ingibjorg (Sigurdardóttir) Magnússon; married Mamie Baird (a journalist), June 30, 1954; children: Sally, Margaret, Anna, Siggy, Jon. Education: Jesus College, Oxford, B.A., M.A. (with honors), 1951. Hobbies and other interests: Reading, wildlife.

ADDRESSES: Home—Blairskaith House, Balmore-Torrance, Glasgow G64 4AX, Scotland. Agent—Deborah Rogers, 49 Blenheim Crescent, London W11 2EF, England.

CAREER: Scottish Daily Express, Glasgow, Scotland, reporter and assistant editor, 1953–61; Scotsman, Edinburgh, Scotland, chief feature writer and assistant editor, 1961–68; freelance writer and broadcaster, 1968–; translator; host of British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC) programs, including Chronicle, 1966–83, Mastermind, 1972–97; BC: The Archaeology of the Bible Lands, Vikings!, Pebble Mill at One, Living Legends, Personal Pursuits, Current Account, All Things Considered, Landlord or Tenant—A View of Irish History, Birds for All Seasons, and cotranslator of Radio 4 serial The Tree of Strife from Njal's Saga, 1994. Lord Rector, Edinburgh University, 1975–78; chancellor, Glasgow Caledonian University, beginning 2002. Stewards chairman of York Archaeological Trust, 1975–83; chairman of Scottish Youth Theatre, 1977–78, Scottish Churches Architectural Heritage Trust, 1978–85, Ancient Monuments Board for Scotland, 1981–89, Nature Conservancy Council for Scotland, 1991, Scottish Office Departmental Working Party on the Cairngorms, 1991–92, and Scottish National Heritage, 1992–99. Trustee, National Museums of Scotland, 1985–89. Member of United Kingdom Committee for European Year of the Environment, 1987.

MEMBER: Royal Society of Edinburgh (fellow), Royal Society of Antiquities (fellow, 1983), Royal Society of Antiquaries of Scotland (fellow, 1984), Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (president, 1985–90), Royal Scottish Geographical Society (honorary fellow, 1991), Royal Institute for the Advancement of Science (fellow, 1987), Age Concern Scotland (honorary president), Royal Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (honorary president).

AWARDS, HONORS: Times Educational Supplement Information Book Award, 1972, for Introducing Archaeology; named Scottish television personality of the year, 1974; Knight of Order of the Falcon (Iceland), 1975, Knight Commander, 1986; Queen's Silver Jubilee Medal, 1977; honorary doctorate from Edinburgh University, 1978, and York University, 1981; Iceland Media Award, 1985; Medlicott Medal, Historical Association, 1989. Received honorary doctorates from universities and colleges, including Edinburgh, 1978, Strathclyde, 1993, Paisley, 1993, and Napier, 1994.

WRITINGS:

(Compiler) Tutankhamun & the Discovery of the Tomb, Viking Press (New York, NY), 1972.

Introducing Archaeology, Walck (London, England), 1972.

Viking Expansion Westwards, Walck (London, England), 1973.

The Clacken and the Slate: The Story of the Edinburgh Academy, 1824–1874, Collins (London, England), 1974.

Hammer of the North, photographs by Werner Forman, Orbis, 1976, 2nd edition, Viking (New York, NY), 1979.

B.C.: The Archaeology of the Bible Lands, illustrations by Shirley Felts, Bodley Head (London, England), 1977, published as Archaeology of the Bible, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1978.

Landlord or Tenant?: A View of Irish History, Bodley Head (London, England), 1978.

Iceland, photographs by John Chang McCurdy, Almenna Bokafelagid, 1979.

Vikings!, Dutton (New York, NY), 1980.

(And presenter) Vikings! (ten-episode television miniseries; based on the book of the same title), Public Broadcasting System (PBS), 1980.

(And narrator) Viking Icelandic Sagas (sound recording), Listen for Pleasure (Downsview, Ontario, Canada), 1981.

Magnús on the Move, Macdonald (Edinburgh, Scotland), 1980.

Scotland's Castles and Great Houses, Harmony Books (New York, NY), 1981, published as Treasures of Scotland, Weidenfeld & Nicolson (London, England), 1981.

(Editor) Echoes in Stone: 100 Years of Ancient Monuments in Scotland, Scottish Development Department/Ancient Monuments Board of Scotland (Edinburgh, Scotland), 1983.

Lindisfarne, the Cradle Island, Oriel Press, 1984.

Landið, sagan og sögurnar: fyrstu aldir Íslands byggðar í nýju ljósi, Vaka-Helgafell (Reykjavik, Iceland), 1987.

Iceland Saga, Bodley Head (London, England), 1987.

(General editor) Cambridge Biographical Dictionary, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 5th edition published as Larousse Biographical Dictionary, Larousse (New York, NY), 1994.

(Editor, with Graham White) The Nature of Scotland: Landscape, Wildlife, and People, Scottish Post Office Board (Edinburgh, Scotland), 1991, revised edition, Canongate Books (Edinburgh, Scotland), 1997.

I've Started, So I'll Finish: The Story of Mastermind, Little, Brown (London, England), 1997.

Rum: Nature's Island, Luath Press (Edinburgh, Scotland), 1997.

Scotland: The Story of a Nation, Atlantic Monthly Press (New York, NY), 2000.

(With Christine Moorcroft) Magnusson's Family Quiz Book, Time Warner Paperbacks (London, England), 2002.

TRANSLATOR

(With Herman Pálsson) Njál's Saga, Penguin (Baltimore, MD), 1960.

Halldór Laxness, The Atom Station, Methuen (London, England), 1961, revised edition, Harvill (London, England), 2003.

Halldór Laxness, Paradise Reclaimed, Methuen (London, England), 1962, Vintage International (New York, NY), 2002.

(With Herman Pálsson; and author of introduction) The Vinland Sagas: The Norse Discovery of America, Penguin (Baltimore, MD), 1965.

Halldór Laxness, The Fish Can Sing, Methuen (London, England), 1966.

(With Herman Pálsson) Snorri Sturluson, King Harald's Saga: Harald Hardradi of Norway, Penguin (Baltimore, MD), 1966.

Samivel, Golden Iceland, Almenna Bokafelagid, 1967.

Halldór Laxness, World Light, University of Wisconsin Press (Madison, WI), 1969.

(With Herman Pálsson) Laxdæla Saga, Penguin (Baltimore, MD), 1969.

Halldór Laxness, Christianity under Glacier, Helgafell, 1973.

(With David MacDuff) Einar Kárason, Devil's Island, Canongate (Edinburgh, Scotland), 2000.

(And editor and author of introduction) The Icelandic Sagas, two volumes, illustrated by John Vernon Lord, Folio Society (London, England), 2002.

Halldór Laxness, Under the Glacier, introduction by Susan Sontag, Vintage (New York, NY), 2005.

OTHER

Author of introduction to books, including Ancient China, by William Watson, BBC Publications, 1974; Karluk: The Great Untold Story of Arctic Exploration, by William L. McKinlay, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1976; More Lives Than One?: Evidence of the Remarkable Bloxham Tapes, by Jeffrey Iverson, Souvenir, 1976; The Atlas of World Geography, edited by Emrys Jones, Sundial, 1977; Face to Face with the Turin Shroud, by Peter Jennings, Mowbray, 1978; Modern Bible Atlas, edited by Yohanan Aharoni and Michael Avi-Yonah, Allen & Unwin, 1979; Living Legends, by Richard Barber, BBC Publications, 1980; Great Books for Today, Reader's Digest, 1981; Hammer and the Cross, by Michael S. Rohan and Allan J. Scott, Alder, 1981; Household Ghosts, by James Kennaway, Mainstream, 1981; The Voyage of Odin's Raven, by Michael Ingram, Clearwater Press, 1982; Bawdy Verse and Folksongs, by Robert Burns, Papermac, 1982; Mastermind Four, BBC Publications, 1982; Northern Voices: Five Contemporary Icelandic Poets, by Alan Boucher, Wilfion Books, 1984; and The Village: A History of Quarrier's, by Anna Magnússon, Quarrier's Homes, 1985.

Contributor to books, including The Glorious Privilege: The History of the "Scotsman," Thomas Nelson, 1967; The Future of the Highlands, by Ian Grimble and Derick S. Thomson, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1968; The "Reader's Digest" Book of Strange Stories, Amazing Facts, Reader's Digest Press, 1975; The National Trust for Scotland Guide, edited by Robin Prentice, J. Cape, 1976; Chronicle, edited by Ray Sutcliffe, BBC Publications, 1978; Pass the Port, edited by Brian Walker, Christian Brann, 1978; and Discovery of Lost Worlds, edited by Joseph J. Thorndyke, Jr., American Heritage, 1979.

Editor of "The Bodley Head Archaeologies," 1970–80; consulting editor of Reader's Digest Book of Facts, 1985. Founder and editor of Popular Archaeology, 1979–80.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Research for a Dictionary of Norse Mythology, for Blackwell.

SIDELIGHTS: Though born in Iceland, Magnús Magnússon has spent much of his life in Scotland and has become an authority on the history of both nations. An archeologist by training, he has combined this specialty with journalism, broadcasting, translation, and writing to build a successful career as a popularizer of the histories, cultures, myths, and oral traditions of ancient Nordic and British peoples such as the Vikings, Celts, Britons, Gaels, Picts, and Scots. One of his most ambitious efforts is his expansive history Scotland: The Story of a Nation. Magnússon reaches as far back as possible—nine thousand years—to explore the complex history of Scotland all the way through to 1999, the year that the Scottish Parliament first met after being dissolved in 1707 when the country was subsumed into the United Kingdom. The author attempts to cover all the bases, telling not only the facts of the tribes, kings, and battles, but also the mythology of the people; he also dispels some popular myths about Scottish history that have endured through literature and Hollywood films. While admitting that the long history might seem intimidating to audiences at first, reviewers of Scotland found Magnússon's storytelling abilities make it a quick read. As Frank R. Shaw put it in a review for Electronic Scotland, "He has a way of making you feel you are there with him." And Library Journal contributor Gail Benjafield asserted that Magnússon "succeeds admirably in creating a pleasurable read."

About his interest in archeology, Magnússon once told CA: "Archaeological reports are the news stories of the past—and luckily, you can't libel the dead!" Magnússon further commented that he considers manmade artifacts unearthed by excavators to be time machines to transport a person into the past.

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

American Anthropologist, October, 1967, review of The Vinland Sagas: The Norse Discovery of America, p. 556; June, 1981, review of Archaeology of the Bible, p. 445.

Architectural Digest, March, 1983, Charles Lockwood, review of Scotland's Castles and Great Houses, p. 242.

Atlantic Monthly, December, 1976, review of Hammer of the North, p. 116.

Bestsellers, February 1, 1974, review of Viking Expansion Westwards, p. 495; February, 1979, review of Archaeology of the Bible, p. 369; January, 1981, review of Vikings!, p. 377.

Booklist, January 1, 1977, review of Hammer of the North, p. 660; January 1, 1980, review of Landlord or Tenant?: A View of Irish History, p. 652; October 1, 1980, review of Vikings!, p. 195; September 1, 2001, Will Hickman, review of Scotland: The Story of a Nation, p. 48.

Books, May, 1987, review of Iceland Saga, p. 27.

Books and Bookmen, December, 1973, review of Viking Expansion Westwards, p. 96; August, 1977, review of B.C.: The Archaeology of the Bible Lands, p. 24; December, 1978, review of Landlord or Tenant, p. 48.

Book World, December 19, 1976, review of Hammer of the North, p. H5; December 7, 1980, review of Vikings!, p. 11; September 9, 2001, review of Scotland, p. 10.

British Book News, September, 1980, review of Vikings!, p. 574; March, 1982, review of Treasures of Scotland, p. 196; March, 1984, review of Echoes in Stone: 100 Years of Ancient Monuments in Scotland, p. 156.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, October, 1973, review of Introducing Archaeology, p. 31.

Business Week, December 22, 1980, review of Vikings!, p. 8.

Catholic Library World, November, 1973, review of Introducing Archaeology, p. 185; March, 1974, review of Viking Expansion Westwards, p. 397.

Choice, November, 1965, review of The Vinland Sagas, p. 633; September, 1977, review of Hammer of the North, p. 928; February, 1979, review of Archaeology of the Bible, p. 1680; February, 1980, review of Landlord or Tenant?, p. 1635; September, 1983, review of The Vinland Sagas, p. 49; May, 2002, review of Scotland, p. 1651.

Christian Century, December 3, 1980, review of Vikings!, p. 1200.

Christianity Today, March 2, 1979, W. Ward Gasque and Carl Edwin Armerding, review of Archaeology of the Bible, p. 22.

Economist, October 16, 1976, review of Hammer of the North, p. 144; November 15, 1997, review of I've Started, So I'll Finish: The Story of Mastermind, p. 12.

Encounter, November, 1977, review of B.C.: The Archaeology of the Bible Lands, p. 54; May, 1979, review of Landlord or Tenant?, p. 67.

Geographical Journal, March, 1988, review of Iceland Saga, p. 129.

Globe and Mail (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), February 2, 2002, review of Scotland, p. D8.

History Today, December, 1980, review of Vikings!, p. 56.

Horn Book, December, 1973, review of Viking Expansion Westwards, p. 602.

Illustrated London News, December 25, 1997, review of I've Started, So I'll Finish, p. 55.

Instructor, November, 1973, review of Viking Expansion Westwards, p. 129.

Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 1973, review of Introducing Archaeology, p. 401; August 1, 1973, review of Viking Expansion Westwards, p. 823; October 1, 1978, review of Archaeology of the Bible, p. 1114; July 15, 2001, review of Scotland, p. 1003.

Kliatt, July, 2003, John. E. Boyd, review of Scotland, p. 48.

Library Journal, May 15, 1973, review of Introducing Archaeology, pp. 1581, 1689; February 15, 1977, review of Hammer of the North, p. 477; October 1, 1980, Donald K. Fry, review of Vikings!, p. 2082; January, 1991, James Moffet, review of Cambridge Biographical Dictionary, p. 88; August, 1994, Stanley P. Hodge, review of Larousse Biographical Dictionary, p. 74; August, 2001, Gail Benjafield, review of Scotland, p. 132.

Library Review, autumn, 1972, review of Introducing Archaeology, p. 300; autumn, 1973, review of Viking Expansion Westwards, p. 127; September 1, 1978, review of Archaeology of the Bible, p. 1635.

Listener, November 8, 1973, review of Viking Expansion Westwards, p. 640; April 14, 1977, review of B.C., p. 492.

National Review, December 14, 1965, review of The Vinland Sagas, p. 1163.

New Law Journal, May 31, 1985, Patrick Purpoole, review of Lindisfarne, the Cradle Island, p. 544.

New Scientist, April 11, 1998, review of I've Started, So I'll Finish, p. 48.

New Statesman, October 15, 1965, review of The Vinland Sagas, p. 568.

New Yorker, December 3, 1973, reviews of Introducing Archaeology and Viking Expansion Westwards, p. 219; July 12, 1982, review of The Atom Station, p. 103.

New York Times Book Review, February 20, 2005, Susan Sontag, "A Report on the Journey," review of Under the Glacier, p. 16.

Observer (London, England), April 2, 1972, review of Tutannkhamun & the Discovery of the Tomb, p. 28; July 16, 1972, review of Introducing Archaeology, p. 31; December 10, 2000, review of Scotland, p. 15.

Publishers Weekly, April 2, 1973, review of Introducing Archaeology, p. 65; October 18, 1976, review of Hammer of the North, p. 52; July 24, 1978, review of Archaeology of the Bible, p. 92; September 26, 1980, Genevieve Stuttaford, review of Vikings!, p. 110; January 8, 2001, review of The Fish Can Sing, p. 47; July 16, 2001, review of Scotland, p. 173.

Punch, November 1, 1978, review of Landlord or Tenant?, p. 770; October 8, 1980, review of Vikings!, p. 617.

Reference and Research Book News, November, 1995, review of Larousse Biographical Dictionary, p. 7.

Review of Contemporary Fiction, fall, 2001, Philip Landon, review of The Fish Can Sing, p. 219.

School Librarian, March, 1979, review of Landlord or Tenant?, p. 81; March, 1981, review of Vikings!, p. 72.

School Library Journal, January, 1977, review of Hammer of the North, p. 108.

Science Books and Films, March, 1974, review of Introducing Archaeology, p. 321; March, 1978, review of Hammer of the North, p. 201.

Spectator, March 19, 1965, review of The Vinland Sagas, p. 368; October 20, 1973, review of Viking Expansion Westwards, p. R18; November 11, 1978, review of Landlord or Tenant?, p. 18; November 25, 2000, review of Scotland, p. 52; July 5, 2003, Tony Gould, "Ugla in Wonderland," review of The Atom Station, p. 39.

Times Educational Supplement, May 23, 1980, review of Vikings!, p. 32.

Times Literary Supplement, June 3, 1965, review of The Vinland Sagas, p. 458; April 28, 1972, review of Tutannkhamun & the Discovery of the Tomb, p. 492; July 14, 1972, review of Introducing Archaeology, p. 810; September 28, 1973, review of Viking Expansion Westwards, p. 1119; November 29, 1974, review of The Clacken and the Slate: The Story of the Edinburgh Academy, 1824–1874, p. 1344; May 30, 2003, Carolyne Larrington, "An Owl in the City: Halldor Laxness and the Icelandic Spirit," p. 23.

Victorian Studies, March, 1976, review of The Clacken and the Slate, p. 419.

ONLINE

Bookreporter.com, http://www.bookreporter.com/ (July 24, 2003), Colleen Quinn, review of Scotland.

Electric Scotland, http://www.electricscotland.com/ (July 24, 2003), Frank R. Shaw, review of Scotland.

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