Michael Drayton's Poly-Olbion

Michael Drayton (1563-1631)

Michael Drayton (1563-1631) was a renowned Elizabethan poet and friend of William Shakespeare. In 1612, he published his life's work, Poly-Olbion, which was a book of songs and poems celebrating the natural beauty and history of Britain. To accompany this work, a set of regional maps (probably engraved by William Hole) were included which have the distinction of being allegorical rather than geographic in nature. The emphasis in particular was on the rivers of England and Wales which are represented by nymphs and spring deities. The countryside was, meanwhile, symbolised with shepherds atop of hills and huntresses attending to the forests. Towns and cities were shown as female figures wearing crowns either in the shape of a castle or spire. Whilst not truly maps, they reflect the more romantic and artistic side, plus the growing sense of national identity, of late Tudor / Early Stuart Britain .

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