This little treasure arrived in the mail today. It’s The A to Z of Regency London, basically a detailed road atlas and bird’s-eye view of London in 1813. Pretty much everything you’ve heard mentioned in history books or novels is here. If you want to know how long it’d take to walk from Jermyn Street to Covent Garden, you can pretend to be Waze and construct the route yourself.
Another thing it does is give you an idea of the size of the landmarks and distances between them, like just how big Hyde Park is, or how far apart townhouses are spaced. I struggle a lot with visualizing unfamiliar places in my head and then communicating that to the page. This is going to be hugely helpful for me.
Today must be serendipitous map day, because I also ran across this awesome collection of historical maps at the National Library of Scotland. It has maps of Scotland, Great Britain, Europe, and the world, with the oldest maps dating from the 1500s. They’ve also got a more specialized site devoted just to maps of Scotland. The one that caught my eye was the current Map of the Month, which shows a zoomable layout of the battlefield at Culloden. I’m almost as thrilled about finding this site as I am the unexpectedly early arrival of A to Z.
And then there’s this jewel of a site, where you can zoom in on any area of the globe and adjust the date range slider to show you which maps are available online for that region and era. In one of the novellas I’m working on, the antagonist kidnaps the heroine at a house party in Cumberland and hauls her off toward Gretna Green (of course), and to get an idea of what it would be like for her to try to walk home, I searched for Gretna Green, set the slider to 1780 to 1820, and then found the map I wanted. If the map’s anything to go by, there’s one main road going to Gretna from the south.
These are just a sampling of what’s out there. I suspect this is a topic I’ll come back to, particularly when I’m working on the Regency romantic suspense trilogy, a large part of which takes part in coastal France.