The last 12 months have seen some outstanding cartographic publications, with options suitable for everyone from mapping experts to those simply inquisitive about the geography and history of the world around them. Thus, with tidings of comfort and joy in mind, here's a rundown of some of the best map books that could make perfect stocking fillers for the cartography fanatics in your life...
Victorian Maps of England
by John Lee
• Publisher: Batsford
• £30 (hardback)
This large-format map book perfectly exemplifies Victorian artistry in its awe-inspiring meticulousness. It is a treasure trove of detailed historical facts, providing an in-depth education on the intricate geography of England circa 1830 - as illustrated by one of Britain’s most influential mapmakers, Thomas Moule. Maps are laid out county by county (plus a few cities too), and each is elegantly decorated with drawings of local points of interest, landscapes and surroundings. Maps are also accompanied by original text written by Moule himself, containing a thorough low-down on the area’s features. Editor John Lee provides a useful introduction on the life and times of Moule, and the rest of the book proceeds in a clear, logical manner. This mapbook will prove particularly compelling for those interested in the Industrial Revolution and how this had an effect on the growth of England’s cities and railway networks.
by Philip Curtis & Jakob Søndergård Pedersen
• Publisher: The Map House
• £35 (hardback)
Transporting you through the first half of the 1900s with colourful and vivid pictorial cartography, this fascinating book delves deep into the history of warfare and conflict to retrieve an eclectic spread of contemporary propaganda from around the world. The pages are scattered with a wide range of maps containing highly stylised and emotive illustrations, designed to incite feelings of national pride, provoke fear and hatred towards enemies, or restore faith in victory. While the maps themselves are curious enough to admire on their own, the book also provides a rare insight into the social and political context behind each one - proving a revealing and informative read. A unique and vibrant take on documenting global tensions spanning from the Boer War up to the Korean War, this mapbook is a great gift for history and cartography enthusiasts alike.
Manchester - Mapping the City
by Terry Wyke, Brian Robson & Martin Dodge
• Publisher: Birlinn
• £30 (hardback)
As the latest publication in the acclaimed ‘Mapping the Cities’ collection, this book is the first of its kind - a chronicle of Manchester’s evolution as seen through the lens of historical maps and unpublished original plans. The authors begin at 1728 and work their way scrupulously through the city’s Victorian-age industrial transformation all the way up to its new development into a 21st Century metropolis. Intricate cartography dug up from various Mancunian archives is used every step of the way to demonstrate the logistics of how such growth was planned and indeed manifested. Nicely laid out and charmingly written, this book showcases one of the UK’s most dynamic cities, along with its pinnacle moments in history and features such as trade routes, football stadiums, shopping malls and MediaCityUK, all of which helped to put Manchester ‘on the map’.
The Writer’s Map - An Atlas of Imaginary Lands
by Huw Lewis-Jones
• Publisher: Thames & Hudson
• £29.95 (hardback)
Comprising this large map book is an enchanting collection of fictional cartographies, taking you on a journey through the weird and wonderful narrative works from which fantasy realms such as Narnia, the Land of Oz and Neverland we born. Set out into separate chapters on creating, writing and reading maps - the book serves as both inspiring and informational for literary fanatics young and old. Spellbinding illustrations are accompanied by thoughts and observations, lovingly contributed by prominent writers from whose imaginations such magical worlds have sprung. Among the busy and colourful pages of this book you will find rare and unpublished sketches that played a key part in the creative process for many of the novels featured. You will also find innovative and unusual maps which inspired authors and their work; as well as uplifting quotes, plenty of history, and other related pearls of wisdom.
Atlas of The Unexpected
by Travis Elborough
• Publisher: White Lion Publishing
• £20 (hardback)
Following on from its highly praised ‘Atlas of’ predecessors, this new release provides a curious insight into the world’s most surprising places and stories. Although it does contain a good deal of clean and elegant cartography by Martin Brown, this isn’t so much of a map book but more of a factfile - detailing various unexpected incidents and discoveries from around the globe related to geographically interesting phenomena. This is paired with black and white photography mostly portraying landscapes and surroundings, which gives the book a unique and artistic tone. ‘The unexpected’ mainly encompasses stories where strange or coincidental circumstances have lead to something extraordinary, like the underground city in Turkey, or the strawberry-milkshake coloured natural lake in Australia, both of which were stumbled upon by unsuspecting citizens. Clearly defined chapters make it a nice easy read, grouping places and stories depending on whether the nature of their existence accidental, haphazardous, serendipitous etc. In sum, this is a fun collection of fascinating and peculiar case studies which will take you all the way to the furthest reaches of the planet - presented in a chic, minimalist and aesthetically pleasing way.
by Chris Fitch
• Publisher: White Lion Publishing
• £25 (hardback)
Splashed with bright colour and an array of eye-catching graphics, this book explores how our world is interconnected through 50 thematic maps. Written by Geographical’s own Chris Fitch, it illuminates the phenomena of globalisation, by mapping out the movement of a wide range of products, services, organisations, people, cultural practises, technologies etc across the planet as it stands today. Each map pertains to a specific entity – for example diamonds, electronic waste, crowdfunding, cinema – and is dedicated to demonstrating the global relationships that exist around it. Themes are carefully curated so as to shed light on the state of our global community in a poignant and revealing way. Anyone who loves interpreting maps, graphs and statistics will find this a captivating read. And even those who don’t usually gravitate towards that sort of thing should find this is an easy-to-digest, bold and refreshing piece of cartography which makes a statement.
by Jacques Devaulx
• Publisher: Taschen
• £100 (hardback)
This exquisite reproduction of Jacques Devaulx’s original 1583 manuscript offers a beautiful and intricate insight into cartography, navigation and exploration across the seven seas of the 16th century. Devaulx was a man of many pursuits, both artistic and scientific - ranging from sailing to cosmography, all of which are magnificently represented here in this book. Hailed as a ‘maritime masterpiece’, anyone with keen nautical or astronomical interests will be enthralled and enchanted by this enormous catalogue of Devaulx’s historic maps, charts, commentaries, calculations, tools and technniques - originally curated and published by the man himself. Standout features for those with in-depth knowledge of such areas include astrolabes, tabular statements of diurnal tides, measurements for solar altitude, and volvelles (wheel charts constructed of rotating parts). The volume is also contextualised by essays and remarks from leading experts in the field. Almost acting as an encyclopaedia for seafarers, the 31 separate pieces or ‘folios’ in this book form an all-encompassing repertoire of the seas and skies of the Renaissance period, through the eyes of a French explorer - reproduced excellently by Taschen in extra-large, accurate, colourful and high quality format.
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