Map of the road of love


During the 18th century, a popular subject for spoof cartography was marriage, as shown in this fantasy ‘map’ made in a typical 18th-century style. Marriage here is depicted as a safe harbour only reached by braving challenging conditions; money and virtue offer safe avoidance of the hazards, but only on islands.

The map contains a lot of moralising about the state of matrimony and love, with some sly double meanings. Here, ‘road’ is used in one of its older senses of ‘a partly sheltered stretch of water near the shore’. There are two prominent classical Greek references: Cupid (god of erotic love and desire), and Hymen (god of marriage ceremonies) – though the word’s anatomical meaning, and association with virginity, is clearly to be understood too.

Full title:
A map or chart of the road of love, and harbour of marriage
1748, Fleet Street, London
Map / Image
T P Hydrographer [pseudonym]
Usage terms
Public Domain
Held by
British Library
Maps CC.2.a.16

Related articles

Courtship, love and marriage in Jane Austen's novels

Article by:
John Mullan
The novel 1780–1832

Professor John Mullan explores the romantic, social and economic considerations that precede marriage in the novels of Jane Austen.

Victorian sexualities

Article by:
Holly Furneaux
Gender and sexuality

How repressed were the Victorians? Dr Holly Furneaux challenges assumptions about Victorian attitudes towards sex, considering how theorists such as Michel Foucault and Judith Butler have provided new ways of understanding sex and sexuality in the period.

Related collection items

Related people

Related works

Pride and Prejudice

Created by: Jane Austen

During 1796–7 young Jane Austen (1775–1817) wrote First Impressions. Her early effort was rejected, but ...

She Stoops to Conquer

Created by: Oliver Goldsmith

She Stoops to Conquer (1773) overview Kenneth Tynan wrote that ‘English drama is a procession of glittering ...