I love maps, I could look at maps for hours. My favourites in the real world are the Michelin Yellow series of French local roads, based upon départements. These are really equivalent to the British OS maps I suppose, but because they are of a different country, they are that little bit more alluring. The official description of these maps is “Detailed road maps of France indicating locations with entries in the Michelin’s Red Guide to hotels and restaurants in the country. General relief is portrayed through subtle hill shading and additional spot heights. Road network is presented in great detail, e.g. clearly drawn motorway junctions, the number of lanes, restricted routes or difficult minor roads, vehicle weight and height limits, steep gradients, intermediate driving distances, scenic routes, etc. Symbols depict diverse landmarks, sites of interest, and recreational facilities. A place name index is included, as are small street plans of selected towns. The maps have a grid showing latitude and longitude at intervals of 10’. On each map, locations listed in the Red Guide are highlighted. “

The areas covered by the Michelin Local Maps series

I think that I first fell in love with maps from reading Treasure Island and The Swallows and Amazons books, both of which had lovely maps in them.

The Lake map from “Swallows and Amazons”

The above maps is courtesy of Mike Field, © 1997-2014 Seymour Field Pty Ltd.

When I was a child, I used to spend hours drawing maps of imaginary place, with huge mountain ranges, forests, swamps, deserts and other features, all based upon the maps in the Chronicles of Narnia.

From Narnia, it was a small step to the ultimate invented world, JRR Tolkien’s Middle Earth.This is the classic Pauline Baynes map –


There are many different maps of Middle Earth, some far more detailed than the originals in the Lord Of The Rings novels. Here is a rather nice one that shows the Undying Lands in the West, as well as the further eastern parts of Middle Earth itself.


Of course, nowadays, no self-respecting imaginary world can be without its map or maps. It always seems to me though, that they all bear a huge debt to Middle Earth, or to some kind of adaptation of Europe, as can clearly be seen in this map of the imagined world of Robert E Howard’s Hyborian Age.

Hyboria – thanks to

Maps hold a spell over all of us, I think. They take us to places that only exist in our minds, even when we are looking at maps of real places. The names on the map can suggest all manner of marvels and wonders. Perhaps in many cases it is better for us to not visit some of them, because the reality cannot always match up to the poetry of place-names.


3 thoughts on “Maps

  1. Pingback: 2010 in review « Carole's Stuff and Occasional Nonsense

  2. Pingback: My life as a series of literary obsessions « Lonesome Monsters

  3. I share your love of maps, Carole — to the extent that, as well as collecting several from novels, as you’ve done yourself, I have also drawn some myself. Among these are maps from the books of Arthur Ransome, and also of the Hundred Acre Wood of A A Milne.

    Strictly speaking, the map from ‘Swallows and Amazons’ you show above actually *isn’t* — rather, it’s my own map drawn to help readers of the series follow the actions in all five of the Lake-series books.

    A higher-resolution version of this map, together with matching maps of Wild Cat Island and Secret Water, can be downloaded free of charge from this site —

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