I Am A Cartophile

Yes, I confess it!  I really am a cartophile.  I love maps.  Don’t confuse the word ‘cartophile’ as used by card collectors with that denoting a map lover!  I have since childhood, when I used to pore over the maps in a small atlas.  The older the maps, the better, in some respects, though I also love entirely fictional maps when they’re very well done.   Not only do I love maps, I love drawing them myself.

Fictional maps first intrigued me because of those produced for J R R Tolkien’s The Hobbit and  The Lord of the Rings.  When I embarked on my own writing, heroic fantasy featured strongly, centred around one world, for which I drew various maps, including one world map in a kind of Mercator projection.  My fantasy novel, when I finish it, will also feature a map.  If you’re interested in fantasy maps, take a look at www.fantasy-map.net!

In my teenage years, I bought a Jackdaw folder of the Battle of Waterloo (sadly, no longer available), and discovered that I also found military maps fascinating, with all those symbols denoting troop positions and movements.  I would say that my favourite book of such maps has to be A Military History and Atlas of the Napoleonic Wars by Vincent J Esposito and Colonel John R Elting, edited by John R Elting.  It is one of the finest works I’ve encountered on all the European battles in which Napoleon fought, between 1796 and 1815.  The large maps are beautifully clear and illustrate the battles superbly, enabling anybody with an understanding of maps to appreciate the terrain that those battles were fought over.  You can follow the progress from the build up to beyond in each battle.  The history part is equally well written, without the massive clutter of personal opinions and moralising about the character of Napoleon which other books suffer from.  It is a book that I heartily recommend to anybody with an interest in the Napoleonic Era, or even just those with a passion for battle maps.  I would give it ten stars, if I could!

Outside of books, I love the UK’s Ordnance Survey maps, especially the most detailed, and the antique maps commonly found as aged reproductions and usually featuring the fascinating maps of English counties by John Speede, which date from the 17th Century.  I would love to get a large reproduction of Speede’s map of Suffolk, my home county.  The usual versions of his maps are so small that reading the detail is challenging.

Are there any other cartophiles out there?

~ Steve