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Picturing a World

Map of Leiden

Although COVID-19 quashed many events in 2020 intended to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower, there were always books. During the lockdown, I read Jeremy Bangs' Strangers and Pilgrims: Travellers and Sojourner about the Pilgrims' earlier years in Leiden, Holland. Pieter Bast's 17th C aerial map of the city allowed me to wander Leiden's streets and visualize the neighborhood where Pastor John Robinson's congregation lived—as well as the larger city where so many other lives were being led.

Maps like these are invaluable to historical-fiction writers. They also allow writers and readers to picture imaginary cities. The world of computer gaming has opened the way to fantasy cartography as a business and hobby. The cities depicted in such drawings are never really as big or complex as historic places, but wouldn't it be fun to learn to make them? In another life, maybe …

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