Published 400 years ago, the first comprehensive atlas of Great Britain is being celebrated by Cambridge University Library, home to one of only five surviving proof sets, all of which differ in their composition.
John Speed’s Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine is one of the world’s great cartographic treasures. Published in 1611/12, it marked the first time that comprehensive plans of English and Welsh counties and towns were made available in print.
To celebrate its 400th anniversary, Cambridge University Library has digitised each of the proof maps and put them online at www.lib.cam.ac.uk/deptserv/maps/speed.html. The Library is also selling copies of the 60 plus images that make up Speed’s masterpiece.
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