This whimsical Shakespeare atlas takes you around the world to the places in his plays

Verona, Florence, Milan, Venice… characters from Shakespeare plays like Romeo and Juliet, The Merchant of Venice, and The Two Gentlemen of Verona roam these real-life Italian cities. But there are some Shakespeare settings that are a little more difficult to pinpoint on a map: the island in The Tempest, for one.

This Shakespeare atlas from 1934 contains 19 hand-drawn maps of places (both real and imaginary) from scenes in Shakespeare plays. The work of a woman named Elizabeth McKie, the atlas is part of the Folger collection and was included in the 2007 exhibition Shakespeare in American Life.

The exhibition catalog notes, “When Elizabeth McKie’s father, a professor of literature, observed that there was no atlas in which to locate all of Shakespeare’s settings, the young woman made one herself. This amateur, but comprehensive, colorful, and generally accurate compilation of maps and pictures appears to be a labor of love and was, presumably, useful to Elizabeth McKie’s family and friends.”

This map of Italy and Sicily from the Shakespeare atlas shows locations from All’s Well That Ends Well, Coriolanus, The Merchant of Venice, Much Ado About Nothing, Othello, Romeo and Juliet, The Taming of the Shrew, The Tempest, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, and The Winter’s Tale. On the bottom of page 35, McKie includes a copy of John Norwood’s 1626 map of Bermuda.

Shakespeare atlas

This map of the land around the Aegean Sea shows the location of scenes from Antony and Cleopatra, The Comedy of Errors, Julius Caesar, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Pericles, Timon of Athens, Troilus and Cressida, and Twelfth Night.

Shakespeare atlas

This map of the eastern Mediterranean Sea shows the location of scenes from Antony and Cleopatra, The Comedy of Errors, Othello, and Pericles.

Shakespeare atlas

What did Shakespeare—and his audiences—really know about the foreign lands inhabited by his characters? The Folger’s Shakespeare Unlimited podcast explores that question, focusing on France and Italy, with Shakespeare scholars Deanne Williams and Graham Holderness.

One Comment

  • Please see book “The Shakespeare Guide to Italy” by Richard Paul Roe 2011 for more detail about real locations of some of the plays.

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