Captain William Shakespear’s Last Journey

By CARRUTHERS, Alexander Douglas Mitchell, 1922 

Northern Arabia. Shakespear’s Last Journey. Carruthers.

Asia Arabia
  • Author: CARRUTHERS, Alexander Douglas Mitchell
  • Publisher: War Office for the Geographical Society
  • Publication date: 1922.
  • Physical description: Chromolithograph map.
  • Inventory reference: 16240


Map of northern Arabia by the Royal Geographical Society in 1922 including Jordan, Kuwait and southern Iraq. As one of the first European surveys of the region, the map reflects the British government’s early efforts to shore up alliances in the area around the time of World War I.

The map is likely the work of Douglas Carruthers, a cartographer for the British War Office. Caruthers worked alongside Harry St. John Bridgen Philby, Gertrude Bell, T.E. Lawrence and Captain William Shakepsear, the latter of which is noted on the chart.

The map detail features altitude contour lines, lakes, rivers, and seasonal stream courses (wadis) .The chart is presented in three colours showing waters in blue, desert areas in brown, and place names, roads and railways in black. The Jaffa-Jersualem railway fragment is included along with the Hejaz Railway, running through Amman in the north and travelling south to Medina. This railway was intended to extend to Mecca, but World War I halted efforts to complete it. The Nefud Desert and its prominent dunes are depicted in the centre of the map.

Caruthers has added overprinted notations in red to highlight the successes of Captain William Shakespear, who was the first European to map the north-central part of the Arabian Peninsula. His journeys from 1910–1914 helped to map the previously unchartered Nefud and also established Shakespear’s relationship to Ibn Saud, who went on to become the King of Arabia, therefore cementing the British political links to the ruling family.