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An Interactive Map of Shakespeare's London

References to cities often make an appearance in Shakespeare's poems and plays. Quick case in point, here's a line from The Comedy of Errors:

Farewell till then: I will go lose myself
And wander up and down to view the city.

To understand these references and truly appreciate The Bard's work, it's important to know the city he was writing in. That's where this interactive mapof early modern London (pictured above) comes in.

"My approach to Shakespeare’s London is a spatial approach,” says Janelle Jenstad, introducing the map of early modern London in a video. “I’m interested in the space of the stage, the space of the city."

Jenstad is an English professor at the University of Victoria who has been exploring the Civitas Londinum base map since the late 1990s. The bird's-eye view of London (also known as the "Agas" map) was first printed on woodblocks in 1561—right around the time of Shakespeare's birth—then modified a century later. The intricate "Agas" map shows details such as monuments, institutions, businesses, marketplaces, and urban planning fixtures.

Jenstad's interactive version pulls information from databases with names of locationspeopleorganizations in the city at the time, as well as referencematerial about the early modern period in London. These data are layered on to the "Agas" base map.