SKU: BK4060

Every map tells a story. Some provide a narrative for travellers, explorers and surveyors or offer a visual account of changes to people’s lives, places and spaces, while others tell imaginary tales, transporting us to fictional worlds created by writers and artists. In turn, maps generate more stories, taking users on new journeys in search of knowledge and adventure.

Drawing on the Bodleian Library’s outstanding map collection and covering almost a thousand years, Talking Maps takes a new approach to map-making by showing how maps and stories have always been intimately entwined. Including such rare treasures as a unique map of the Mediterranean from the eleventh-century Arabic Book of Curiosities, al-Sharīf al-Idrīsī’s twelfth-century world map, C.S. Lewis’s map of Narnia, J.R.R. Tolkien’s cosmology of Middle-earth and Grayson Perry’s twenty-first-century tapestry map, this fascinating book analyses maps as objects that enable us to cross sea and land; as windows into alternative and imaginary worlds; as guides to reaching the afterlife; as tools to manage cities, nations, even empires; as images of environmental change; and as digitized visions of the global future.

By telling the stories behind the artefacts and those generated by them, Talking Maps reveals how each map is not just a tool for navigation but also a worldly proposal that helps us to understand who we are by describing where we are.

Jerry Brotton is Professor of Renaissance Studies at Queen Mary University of London. Nick Millea is the Map Librarian at the Bodleian Library.


  • Hardback
  • 224 pages, 270 x 270 mm
  • c. 100 colour illustrations
  • ISBN: 9781851245154
  • Publication July 2019

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