Adult colouring books have become something of trend in recent years, but it’s far from a modern phenomenon; indeed, the concept stretches back some 400 years.
Now, one of the earliest books intended for amateur colouring-in Albion’s Glorious Ile – first published in the 17th century – to accompany a magical poem celebrating ‘the pleasures infinite’ of England and Wales, is to be republished.
The maps, published in two parts in 1612 and 1622, were created to go alongside the poet Michael Drayton’s 17th-century, 15,000-line poem, Poly-Olbion, which tours the country, evoking spirit of each county, except Scotland, which it seems the poet never got around to.
The maps anthropomorphise the landscape, turning the country into a playful fairyland – hills becoming country gentlemen, forests huntresses, rivers gods and water nymphs – and are possibly the strangest maps of the British Isles ever published, all intricately detailed for people to add their own creativity to.
The poetry and map came out of a the Renaissance vogue for chorography, the art of describing place, and provide a detailed insight in thinking in Early Modern England.
The 30 delightful maps, which now comes in four volumes, will be published in June by Unicorn Press.