Among the bulletin-board resources that I have pasted around my office, competing with lists and charts for visual space, is “The Country Around Edgestow.” This fantasy map was drawn by artist Tim Kirk for an early Mythlore article, “Arthurian & Cosmic Myth in That Hideous Strength” by Margaret Hannay (1970). I have confessed before that I have tried to work out some of the local (i.e., the ones on Earth) places in C.S. Lewis’ Ransom Cycle. I am really among the least likely of fools to succeed in this quest, not being either British or anywhere near the English spaces where Lewis has located the story. But in writing my article, “What is the Significance of Worc(h)ester in C.S. Lewis’ Ransom Cycle?,” I became intrigued by the possibilities of real places in C.S. Lewis’ mind that sit behind his fictional English towns and countrysides. I even spent a day hiking with Rev. Stephen Winter–the “Wisdom from the Lord of the Rings” blogger–hoping to feel Lewis’ real schoolboy environment of Malvern and environs behind Dr. Ransom’s earthly home base.
My visit was not conclusive, though it was an interesting one–and I had a brilliant weekend of hiking and visiting. I still would like, however, to continue to visit the hills and towns and colleges that form Lewis’ literary imagination.
One of Lewis’ key terran fictional places is “Edgestow,” the home of Bragdon Wood, Bracton College, and the literary centre of the events in That Hideous Strength. In my reading about Lewis and Arthurian literature, I happened upon Margaret Hannay’s piece, which included a map of “The Country Around Edgestow” by artist Tim Kirk. Mythlore has an elegant design today that heightens its peer-review status. Back in the day, though, it was like an avant-garde literary zine meets academic playground–a precursor to places like A Pilgrim in Narnia and one of the better products to come out of Inklings societies in the 1960s. If you have a chance to scan some old copies, you will see all manner of folk poetry, fan art, and editorial imagination.
One of these older art pieces is Tim Kirk’s “The Country Around Edgestow.” People who are better at seeing the three-dimensional from reading text may quibble, but as a reading tool, I have come to like this fairly detailed Edgestow map. With the help of Mythlore editor Janet Brennan Croft, Tim Kirk kindly gave me permission to share the map on A Pilgrim in Narnia. You can download a PDF of Hannay’s article with Kirk’s map in context here. And there is a clearer, zoom-able version of the map here. I hope this provides some dimension for the next time you read the Ransom books.
See Hannay, Margaret (1970) “Arthurian & Cosmic Myth in That Hideous Strength,” Mythlore: A Journal of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Charles Williams, and Mythopoeic Literature: Vol. 2: No. 2 , Article 3.