Manuscript maps from Dickens’ first novel
By C.M.N., 1908
A series of maps, drawn to illustrate The Pickwick Papers
- Author: C.M.N.
- Publisher: C.M.N.
- Publication date: 1908.
- Physical description: Manuscript map of London with six inset views, yellowing and slightly faded, two small partial holes to lower margin, not affecting image.
- Dimensions: 547 by 709mm. (21.5 by 28 inches).
- Inventory reference: 14929
Featured in the centre is a map of Westminster and Southwark, where the various hotels, pubs and even prison occupied by the characters are shown, accompanied by bracketed numbers corresponding to the relevant chapters of the book. In chapter 21, a cantankerous old man bemoans the state of London, lamenting that “poverty and debauchery lie festering in the crowded alleys; want and misfortune are pent up in the narrow prison”. A small inset view presents the area around Bank in greater detail, including “The Blue Boar” inn where Mr Weller meets with his father in chapter 33. In the upper left corner, the western suburbs of London are shown, along with four quotations mentioning the relevant locations. Below this inset, another illustrates Kent, which Mr Tupman visits at the beginning of the book and is reassured by a local that the county consists of nothing more than “apples, cherries, hops, and women”. The opposite corner contains a plan of Bury St Edmunds, which the adjacent quotation describes as “a handsome little town, of thriving and cleanly appearance”. In the town, Mr Pickwick stays at The Angel hotel, a real establishment frequented by Dickens and still in operation today. Another inset shows a small intersection of roads in Edinburgh, where a story told in chapter 49 is set. The upper right corner contains a small-scale map of South East England, in which the journeys of the Pickwickians take place.
No detail is spared on this series of maps, with a number of tables listing the places of importance shown on the image, as well as a supplementary list of locations not illustrated here. Although initialled with the letters C.M.N., it is not clear who designed and drew these maps. Three editions of ‘The Pickwick Papers’ were published in 1908, to when this is dated, but none of them seem to contain any sort of map. It is perhaps more likely that this manuscript image was the personal project of an ardent Dickens fan; its detail and precision are certainly evidence of a diligent and enthusiastic illustrator.