Explore the Literary Geography of London

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Authorial London is a project that maps out geographic references about London from writers that have lived in the United Kingdom’s most populous city.  To date, the project has mapped out 193 works written between the 14th and 20th centuries by 47 authors.  Developed by Stanford researchers, the site was established in part to geographically locate places that otherwise be only historically recognizable.  From the about page: “Few things are so quickly dated and so obscure to outsiders in literature as references to place. A neighborhood nickname, a locally notorious alley, may be rich in meaning as Dickens writes them, but utterly baffle readers a mere generation later or a country distant.

The geocoded locations are symbolized based on the geographic point’s importance in either the author’s life (yellow), literary works (red), or both (orange).  Points of interest can be further refined by restricting what is shown by genre, form (prose, poetry, drama), social standing, and period. Additionally, only the geographic locations relevant to up to three authors can be viewed.  Specific neighborhoods can be selected to view and finally, users can dive into the geographic locales of specific works.

Users also have the option to change out the basemap.  The default is “modern” but a 1723 map by Thomas Taylor is shown when selecting early 18th century.  “Bowles’s new pocket plan of the cities of London & Westminster with the borough of Southwark: comprehending the new buildings and other alterations to the year 1783” is the base map for late 18th century.  Finally, “Indicator map of London: with the Recent improvements, 1880” is the base map for the late 19th century.

Visit: Authorial London