Explore the evolution of maps and the key figures behind them through expert articles and curious collection items. See how maps have influenced war, popular culture and movement.


Articles

Polar locations map (Maps MOD GSGS Misc.1524)

The map of the world in the 20th century

The British Library’s map curator Tom Harper details the evolution of the map of the world in the 20th century, from the Navy League map of 1901 to a digital world view a century later.

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Maps and views

What is a fantasy map?

The British Library’s map curator, Tom Harper discusses the existence of fantasy maps created in the 20th century, containing a mixture of real-life and imaginary influences.

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20th century London maps banner - London Mayfair Square (CC.5.a.555.)

20th century London maps

British Library maps curator Tom Harper explores the history of London through its maps, from the beginnings of the London Underground to immigration.

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Satirical maps

Satirical maps of the world

Objective geographical representation isn’t always the intention of maps – they can also provide social, economic or political commentary on a region, as British Library maps curator, Tom Harper discusses.

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Themes

War

Find out how maps have been used as propaganda tools throughout the World Wars and how they’ve plotted some of the most daring of escapes in history.

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Blog posts

Shipwrecks and Piracy: John Rocque’s 1750 Map of Rome, part two

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

In my last blog I noted how John Rocque’s 1750 map of Rome could be considered both a personal memento for the grand tourist who likely commissioned it – Sir Bourchier Wrey – as well as a useful map for...

A Malawian mystery tour

Thursday, March 29, 2018

The British Library, with generous funding from the Indigo Trust, has recently conserved, catalogued, digitised and made freely available online a further 1,100 images of maps and associated documents relating to East Africa. The material represents part of the War...

Georg Wilhelm Schimper in Abyssinia: a new online resource

Friday, March 16, 2018

We are pleased to introduce this guest blog post by Dr Dorothea McEwan. Ethiopia is the product of a long historical process, from the Aksumite empire 2000 years ago, then the introduction of Christianity in the 4th century, the political...

International Women's Day: Helen Wallis OBE (1924-1995)

Thursday, March 8, 2018

International Women's Day 2018 provides the opportunity to celebrate the life and achievements of Helen Wallis OBE (1924-1995) head of the British Museum and later British Library's map collections between 1967-1986, and to promote a research fund set up in...

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Shop our maps-inspired range

Maps Shop Item: Exhibition Book

Maps and the 20th century

A global story of the most turbulent century in history through its most powerful and important object: the map.

£20

Maps Shop item: Cross Stitch World Map

Cross Stitch Map

A world map printed on cross stitch fabric and mounted on a wooden frame.

£25

Maps Shop Item: Orange Globe Light

Globe Light Orange

See the world, see the light. A bold and elegant globe light.

£85