The beast in a box: Playing with empire in early nineteenth-century britain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


This article focuses on The Noble Game of the Elephant and Castle, or Travelling in Asia, an early nineteenth-century board game published by London-based William Darton. A toy that relies on the science of portable technologies and optical entertainment, the game offers selected vignettes of the political and cultural history of Britain's growing empire to its young players. As such, it represents the importance of learning about the nation's emerging imperial identity through categorizing and critiquing diverse peoples and their traditions. The article also analyzes how board games mobilized notions of Christian virtue and duty within the larger framework of travel and adventure across imperial geographies. To this end, it examines medieval bestiaries, the elephant's figure as a metaphor for travel, the aesthetics of cartography and the significance of menageries, all of which can be connected one way or another to the game.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7-31
Number of pages25
JournalVisual Resources
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2006


  • Darton, william
  • Hunting
  • Maps
  • Menagerie
  • Noble game of the elephant and castle, the, or travelling in asia
  • Sati

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Museology


Dive into the research topics of 'The beast in a box: Playing with empire in early nineteenth-century britain'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this