Discover the role and history of topographical views, maps and texts through over 800 examples from the British Library’s collections and beyond, with fresh research in over 120 articles and films from an academic conference hosted by the British Library and Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art.


The prospects of the two most remarkable towns in the north of England for the clothing trade, viz. Leeds, As it appears from Holbeck Road, and Wakefield, As it appears from London Road, by William Lodge.

Local historians in the 18th century

Writing local histories was a favourite hobby of many in the 18th century who had spare time, money, and a desire to find out more about their towns and country. Rosemary Sweet examines some of the motivations of local historians and the usefulness of their work for historians today.

Read more
PANORAMIC VIEW of that part of Ratisbon west of the cathedral, painted in water-colours by G. Scharf, sen.; 1845. Paper; 6 ft. 1/2 in. X 1 ft.

The spectacle of the panorama

What was a panorama? Markman Ellis explores the evolution of this immersive form of topographical art.

Read more
John Bowles' Pocket Map of London.

Maps, guidebooks and topographical prints of London by the Bowles family

In the 18th century, a whole range of works catered to new arrivals in London. Alison O’Byrne explores how these works – including guidebooks, pocket maps, and views of the city – offered different kinds of topographical information to enable visitors to find their way through the streets of the capital.

Read more
Aquatint showing the Trelawny Parish Maroons ambushing British troops on the Dromilly Estate, Jamaica

Slavery, freedom and the Jamaican landscape

Jamaican Maroons fought two major wars against the British during the 18th century. With reference to maps and views in the King's Topographical Collection, Miles Ogborn investigates these communities of escaped slaves and their attempts to retain their freedom in a landscape of slavery.

Read more
View of Glendalough in Wicklow, Ireland, by Peter Van Lerberghe

The military roads of county Wicklow

Art historian Finola O’Kane explores the history, design and representation of Wicklow's military roads in military and tourism contexts.

Read more


Military and maritime

Before photography, what role did handmade images play in military and maritime enterprise?

Read more
A view of Killaru churchyard on the Isle of Islay by John Cleveley, junior.


How did amateurs, collectors and enthusiasts record the past before the development of history as a modern discipline?

Read more
Wenceslaus Hollar's 1675 map of the city of London, Westminster and Southwark after the Great Fire

Town and city

Pictures of the built environment: how do they reveal religious, political and social history?

Read more
Summary: Four men resting on stones in the foreground, with the River Arveiron rising from a glacier in the background; within wash border.  Summary: Titled ‘Vue de la Source de l'Arveron, par Hackert’ in the Catalogue of the Maps, Prints, Drawings, etc., forming the geographical and topographical collection attached to the Library of his late Majesty King George the third, etc., London, 1829.


Idyllic views, working landscapes and natural wonders: explore the allure of picturing the countryside.

Read more
A fiery orange landscape

Science and nature

Discover images of the natural world treated as objects of fascination.

Read more
Interior View of the East End of Netley Abbey near Southampton. Summary: A man sketching and a woman standing in the interior of the ruins of Netley Abbey; trees and foliage throughout the scene. Inscribed with title in black ink on verso. Inscribed 'O' in black ink on verso.

Transforming topography

Changing ideas about the nature and purpose of views and records of place.

Read more

Over 800 collection items from the British Library and institutions across Europe