The Writer's Map: An Atlas of Imaginary Lands by Huw Lewis-Jones

Staff Pick

Before it was a field science, “cartography was...an art," says Robert Macfarlane, author of The Old Ways. The specific art he means has to do with story-maps rather than with the later, utilitarian grid-maps, and that art, with its transporting blend of "knowledge and supposition" gets beautiful, full-color homage in The Writer's Map: An Atlas of Imaginary Lands (University of Chicago, $45). In addition to Macfarlane, this volume, edited by Huw Lewis-Jones, a historian of visual culture, includes the work and commentary of writers and artists ranging from David Mitchell, Philip Pullman, and Joanne Harris to Miraphora Mina, who worked on all the Harry Potter films; Russ NIcholson, a prestidigitator of fantasy art; and Caldecott Medal-laureate Brian Selznick. The twenty-three contributors recount the special journeys maps have taken them on, describing what first drew them to maps and sharing which maps have especially inspired them. With maps Jules Feiffer's 1961 mapping of the route to The Phantom Tollbooth’s Lands Beyond alongside Thoreau's meticulous survey of Walden Pond, the book is both a de facto map of the imagination and a history of cartography, even as it challenges settled definitions of "map" and boundary."