Mapping Fiction

Loren Latker, “Shamus Town” The Raymond Chandler Mystery Map of Los Angeles, the Wonder City of America, 2014. Map, 39 3/4 x 26 1/2 in. © Loren Latker, 2021. The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens.

I have always been intrigued by the sense of place in novels. In fact, during my undergraduate days at university, I once managed to deliver the same paper on the geography of place to both my Geography class and a class on Modern Fiction. So, of course, I am intrigued by a new exhibition at the Huntington Library and Museum called Mapping Fiction. 

The show highlights the way in which mapped spaces have played a role in fiction, e.g., Joyce’s Dublin, Tolkien’s Middle-Earth, and Robert Louis Stevenson’s famous island. Drawn entirely from The Huntington’s collections, “Mapping Fiction” includes 70 items focused on novels and maps from the 16th through the 20th century—largely early editions of books that include elaborate maps of imaginary worlds. Among the highlights are Lewis Carroll’s 1876 edition of The Hunting of the Snark, Robert Louis Stevenson’s maps from Treasure Island and Kidnapped, J. R. R. Tolkien’s map from the trilogy The Lord of the Rings, and science fiction writer Octavia E. Butler’s hand-drawn maps from notes for Parable of the Talents (1998) and her unpublished novel Parable of the Trickster. In addition to Butler’s archives, the show draws on The Huntington’s archival collections of Jack and Charmian London, Christopher Isherwood, and others, as well as the institution’s rich print holdings in travel narratives, English literature, and the history of science.

Octavia E. Butler, Map of Acorn from notes for Parable of the Talents, ca. 1994. (Detail) Manuscript on binder paper, 8 1/2 x 11 in. © Octavia E. Butler. Reprinted by permission of Writers House, LCC acting as agent for the estate. The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens.

Mapping Fiction will be open from Jan.15, 2022 to May 12, 2022.


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2 Responses to Mapping Fiction

  1. Fascinating! Along the same lines, do you know the French 17th century Map of Tendre?
    It totally enthralled me when I discovered it in 7th grade.
    You can read more about it here, and zoom on it. The words are in French, but you will able to understand several cognates:

  2. Carol says:

    What a cool exhibit!

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