Places and Spaces

Map image

From an early age, geography and maps were a very important part of writer Alan Sillitoe’s life. In the 1974 essay Maps, he remembers watching with “utter fascination when the teacher in school took a wheeled metal cylinder with a handle to it, rolled it on an inked pad, and then pushed it firmly across a blank page in my exercise book so that a perfect outline of Europe and North America was left gleaming on the page. – It was the action of a magic wand, a device made by a wizard.”

When writing his Nottingham-based novels, Sillitoe always had a street plan to hand, alongside a one-inch scaled map of the area, enabling him to produce a definitive Nottingham landscape. From this position he was able to ‘map the spiritual turmoil of myself and other people.’