Illustrated map of Laurie Lee's journey across Spain in 1935-6
Self-initiated project | 2014 | Adobe Illustrator with handdrawn elements
This map illustrates the journey taken by the writer and poet Laurie Lee (1914-1997) across Spain between 1935 and 1936, as vividly recounted in his acclaimed memoir "As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning" (published 1969).
After leaving his home in the west of England, Lee worked for a period as a labourer on building sites in London before his desire for adventure and inspiration for his writing prompted him to board a boat bound for Vigo in northwestern Spain. From there, he undertook a journey on foot across the country that lasted a year, always deciding on his next course of direction arbitrarily; often naïve and underprepared, he earned what little money he could by playing his violin in public. Encountering all sorts of friendly and fearsome characters along the way, he passed through Valladolid, Segovia, Madrid, Toledo, Seville, Cádiz and Gibraltar before ending up in Almuñécar, at that time an impoverished fishing village, where he witnessed the beginning of the Spanish Civil War (1936-39) before being evacuated by the British Royal Navy.
The design features illustrations of eight places that Lee visited along his journey, drawn to appear as they would have done in the mid-1930s, as well as a scene of Lee himself walking across the Spanish landscape along the bottom edge. The map also displays the regions of Spain as they still were and known by in English at that time.
The map is available as to purchase as a giclee print from my online shop.
The whole map, which features a richly decorated border and title and is embellished with various narrative illustrations.
Detail of the central section of the map, showing Lee's route between Segovia and Toledo via the Sierra de Guaderrama and Madrid.
Detail of the southern section of the map, showing the last few stops along Lee's journey including Seville, Gibraltar and his final destination, Almuñécar in Granada.
Detail of the compass at bottom right which also serves as the disc of the sun in the illustration along the bottom edge of Lee walking across a landscape. Lee frequently made reference to the blistering heat that he encountered during his journey and this detail, as well as the colour scheme, are intended to evoke that. The violin also references the instrument he carried throughout his journey and played in public to earn money.
Detail of the border design, inspired by traditional Spanish tile decorations, and an illustration of Segovia, one of the cities Lee passed through. The bottle of wine, placed here to give visual balance the violin on the opposite side, is also a reference to his frequent mentions of the drink in his tale.
Illustration of Vigo, the first Spanish city he encountered and where he arrived by ship from Britain.
Illustration of Toro, a small city between Zamora and Valladolid where he witnessed a religious parade.
Illustration of Valladolid City Hall, in the city's Plaza Mayor. It was in this building that Lee obtained a permit to play his violin in public.
Illustration of Toledo, showing the spire of its Cathedral rising behind closely-packed buildings. Lee stayed for a time with the poet Roy Campbell and his family near the Cathedral.
Illustration of Seville, showing the Golden Tower (Torre de Oro) beside the River Guadalquivir, and the cathedral in the background.
Illustration of Algeciras with Gibraltar in the background. Lee visited both places; he fell in love with Algeciras but found Gibraltar a more dispiriting place, as he was treated with suspicion by the British authorities there.
Finally, an illustration of Almuñécar beach as it would have appeared in the mid 1930s. Lee described the town as small and very poor, with the local men making a meagre living from fishing. It was here that he witnessed the beginning of the Spanish Civil War (including its accidental shelling by a friendly Republican warship) and was evacuated from its harbour by a British ship. Lee returned to Spain a year later to fight in the war on the Republican side... which is another story, and another map.