Robert Dodsley was a successful writer, poet and publisher. He published mainly literary material in his day including that of his friend Dr. Johnson from 1738. The maps for the ‘Geography of England’ began life as so many others of the period in a periodical. ‘The Publick Register: or, the Weekly Magazine’ by Robert Dodsley struggled to survive under the laws of the day. Stamp duty was required on all newspapers but it was interpreted variously between 1733 and 1743. Dodsley believed that by reporting it weekly it was not news but eventually lost the battle to the more efficient competition of Edward Cave’s ‘Gentleman’s Magazine’. Before it closed it had introduced a series of six topographical descriptions accompanied by maps. They ran alphabetically and included those between Bedfordshire and Cornwall.
At the demise of the Magazine it is safe to assume enough topographical material had been gathered to encourage Dodsley to continue and publish it collectively. This he duly announced to the public as the ‘Geography of England’ in November 1743. This is despite the title page recording a date of 1744, not an uncommon practice. Jointly published the maps are attractive to the eye. John Cowley (fl.1733-44) was a political writer and geographer. Carroll 26; Chubb 181; Hodson no. 194; Quixley (1966) no. 27 & (2018) 35; Shirley BL T.Cowl 1a.