Contributing Scholar

Peter Barber

Peter Barber, OBE, FSA, FRHistS, graduated in International Relations at Sussex University and undertook postgraduate research in International History at the London School of Economics. In 1975 he became a curator in the Department of Manuscripts at the British Library where, between 2001 and 2015 he was Head of Map Collections. He has written extensively on the history of pre-modern maps, particularly medieval mappae mundi, English 16th century maps, the British Library’s collection – and maps at European courts between 1500 and 1800, especially at the courts of King Henry VIII, Queen Elizabeth I, and King George III.

Peter Barber has curated and consulted on numerous exhibitions internationally and appeared in numerous radio and television documentaries. Since 2015 he has been a visiting professor in the Department of History, King’s College London. In 2012 he was made an OBE for services to cartography and topography.


Research interests
  • The history of cartography with particular reference to medieval European mapping; English mapping 1110-circa. 1780; maps and government; the history of the British Library’s map collection with particular reference to the Cotton collection and King George III”s topographical collection; 20th century political and satirical mapping. the iconic use of maps
  • The history of Italian-Swiss immigration to Great Britain 1847-1980
  • The history of Austrian Jewry
  • The history of Highgate and Hornsey
Contribution to publications
  • Tales from the Map Room (BBC Books,1993)
  • The Lie of the Land (British Library, 2001)
  • The Queen Mary Atlas (Folio Society, 2005)
  • The Map Book ( Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 2005)
  • Mapmaking in England circa. 1470-1650 in The History of Cartography.iii. Cartography in the European Renaissance ed. David Woodward, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007) pp. 1589-1669
  • King Henry’s Map of the British Isles. BL Cotton MS Augustus commentary ( Folio Society, 2009)
  • Magnificent Maps (British Library, 2010)
  • London: A History in Maps (LTS and the British Library, 2012)
  • Continental Taste. Ticinese Emigrants and their Caf”-Restaurants in Great Britain, 1847-1987 (London: Camden History Society, 1997).
  • Edited with introduction and afterword: Gin and Hell-Fire: Henry Batchelor”s memoirs of a working class childhood in Crouch End 1823-1837 (London: Hornsey Historical Society, 2004)
Expertise and public engagement
  • President, International Map Collectors” Society,
  • President, Hornsey Historical Society,
  • Trustee, Hereford Mappa Mundi Trust
  • Trustee, Imago Mundi Ltd;
  • Trustee, Lauderdale House Society Ltd;
  • Trustee, Jewish Scrolls Committee. member,
  • Reviewing Committee for the Export of Works of Art and Objects of National Interest; member, academic steering committee, Georgian Papers (KCL and Royal Library, Windsor);
  • Council member, London Topographical Society;

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