From the ‘Poly-Olbion’ as it is more commonly known, a book of poems by the Elizabethan poet Michael Drayton (1563-1631). He was born in 1563 at Hartshill, near Atherstone, Warwickshire. He began working on his longest poem at least 14 years before publication in 1612. It comprises a series of songs in praise of the English and Welsh countryside, with accompanying allegorical maps. The 1622 issue is the first complete edition, containing all thirty sections, each with a highly attractive engraved map. The notes to the songs were written by the polymath John Selden. The newly engraved maps for the second book also contain page numbers engraved near the upper margin and are therefore found in only one state. The new maps as stated in the title to the second part cover the area ‘betwixt the two famous Riuers of Thames, and Tweed’.
Yates argues that the ‘Poly-Olbion’ was one of the most important attempts during the Stuart era to connect them with Tudor myth of ‘British’ history. This is best seen in the allegorical title page which displays both the Stuarts and the Tudors as descendants of Brut. It depicts a virginal Albion wrapped in a cloak resembling a map of England. The symbolism suggests that the descriptive ‘maps’ in the work have a serious historical context. Yates asserts that the graceful nymphs displayed on many of the maps recalls the masque of the Tethys Festival given at court in June 1610 on the occasion of the creation of Henry as Prince of Wales. Drayton died 23 December 1631 and is buried in Westminster Abbey. This is an example of the FIRST STATE included in the incomplete issue of 1612 without the addition of a page number at the upper edge. It covers the country to the south of London incorporating Surrey and Sussex and is one of the more ornate of the maps in the work. London is prominently illustrated as are the key places upriver of Westminster, Richmond and Hampton Court. A vignette scene of the Weald is upper right with an indication of the forests nearby depicted. Carroll (1996) 8; Chubb (1927) 35; Harley ‘Tudor Mapmaking’; Kingsley (1982) IV 1.i; Shirley (2004) T.DRA-1d; Skelton (1970) 8; STC 7228-30; Yates (1975).