The British Isles


This 1842 map of the British Isles was published “under the superintendence” of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, an organization founded in London in 1826 for the purpose of improving the educational level of the British working and middle classes. The map was engraved by J. & C. Walker, a London firm of engravers, draftsmen, and publishers that flourished in the mid-19th century. It was published by Chapman and Hall, a London bookselling and publishing business established in 1830 by William Hall (1800–1847) and Edward Chapman (1804–80), best known for issuing works by Charles Dickens and other important Victorian novelists and poets. The map shows counties, cities and towns, rivers, bridges, forts, and other natural and man-made features. Relief is shown by hachures. Hand-colored lines highlight the boundaries between counties, with different colors used for the counties of England and Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. The borders between England and Scotland and England and Wales are marked with a dashed line. A small part of the coast of France is visible in the lower right. No distance scale is given on the map. In the 1830s and 1840s, the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge produced numerous publications, including a Library of Useful Knowledge, the volumes of which sold for sixpence, and a two-volume series of maps that were known for their high quality. More than 200 maps, also sold separately, were made, and more than 3 million copies were printed.

Last updated: April 13, 2016