112 Mary Martha Rodwell 1834


Mary Martha Rodwell has the distinction of being the only woman cartographer or publisher to offer a county atlas under her own name (as opposed to those who carried on their husband’s business1. She prepared a geography containing 118 maps on 59 plates of the counties of Great Britain and Ireland, The Geography of the British Isles ... interspersed with many historical facts and biographical sketches; selected from the best authors, and illustrated with separate blank maps and explanatory keys; showing the relative situations, boundaries, principal towns, rivers &c of each county. For the use of young persons and schools (8vo), in 1834.

These were miniature maps, each one accompanied by explanatory text. They formed part of a children’s instructional work and were printed two to a page; Devon was printed below Dorset. The maps are without scale, compass or other wording. The rivers, towns and geographical features are marked by letters or numerals which are identified by a key at the beginning of the relevant text: numbers 1-26 for towns, rivers a-k, bays and capes A-I with Lundy H. The names of surrounding counties are replaced by lines of dashes (not apparent on the illustration). The text itself is set out as a dialogue between Mrs Rowe (ostensibly the teacher) and two children, Anna and George, who seem to have a great deal of knowledge concerning geography, history and personages of the county.

Devon and Dorset appeared on page 104 with the appropriate text for Devon beginning on page 111 and continuing until page 117.


Size 75 x 90 mm.                                                                                                                                                                        Scale 1M = 1 mm.



1. 1834  The Geography of the British Isles ...  By Mary Martha Rodwell. Vol 1  
    London. Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, Green and Longman. 1834. CCCCLVIIIc, BL.

[1] Interestingly R V Tooley does not list Rodwell in his list of Women in the Map World in The Map Collector (Issue 4 September 1978). Of the many women listed most, such as Anne Lea and Elizabeth Bakewell, took over their husband’s or father’s business and were quite successful. A few women are reported as publishing maps and atlases for others including Mary Cooper, who was well-known in the book trade in the 1750s, and Joyce Gold who published Rowe’s English Atlas (1816).