Mashing up the places, characters and events of various works into one shared universe isn’t exactly a new idea. Philip José Farmer’s Wold Newton universe imagines that most of the great fictionalized characters of the last few hundred years — including Tarzan, Doc Savage, Dracula, James Bond, Sherlock Holmes and more — are all genetic mutants descended from survivors of a late 18th-century meteorite crash… an idea wizardly comics scribe Alan Moore ran and spiked the ball with in his League of Extraordinary Gentlemen series. New concept or not, though, you can’t exactly take these universes and hang them on your wall. But with the new Book Map by Dorothy, you can do just that, framing a shared universe of literary places and putting it on display.
If the M.O. of the Book Map looks familiar, it’s for good reason. The sister map of the Book Map is the self-explanatory T.V. Map, a clever bit of cartography that imagines Washington, D.C. — home to the world’s first television station — as a living world of television shows.
Choosing a city to make home to some of the Western world’s greatest novels is a trickier proposition. The novel traces its roots back to antiquity, such as the Satyricon by Petronious and The Golden Ass by Apuleius, but maps of ancient Rome and Algeria don’t exactly lend themselves to Dorothy’s sort of approach. Instead, they chose to set their literary map in London, home of Charles Dickens, Mary Poppins, Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Jekyl, and more.
London is, of course, full of some of Europe’s most beautiful parks and gardens, and so they become some of the great ornamental grounds of literature: the Middlemarch, Gorky Park, Darkling Plain and Enchanted Forest of Literary London. On the outskirts of the Book Map, near Slaughterhouse Five, you can find its fodder, Animal Farm, where as Graham Greene’s Brighton Rock overlooks the Island of Blue Dolphins and Alex Garland’s Beach, where you can also find at least one sandworm-infested Dune.
As you might expect from a town that is one of the world’s great pub crawls, Literary London is also full of some great boozing spots. Grab a pint of butterbeer at the Leaky Cauldron, a Vesper at Casino Royale, or partake abstemiously with your everyman Christian at The Pilgrim’s Progress. It is also a great place for architecture tours, including the fabled buttresses of the House of Usher. Bibliophiles, naturally, will find many places to shop for memorial tomes, including The Old Curiosity Shop and The Haunted Bookshop. And, of course, if you want to avoid the crush of the city entirely, you can always follow in Thomas Hardy’s footsteps and hit the outskirts of town, Far From The Maddening Crowd.
As with the T.V. Map before it, you can spend many hours lost in the Book Map’s Literary London. There’s simply too much here to describe. If you’re a bibliophile, a Londoner, or both, the Book Map can be purchased right now from Dorothy’s shop for around $40.