Frequently Asked Questions
- What is Literary Atlas?
- How does Literary Atlas map novels?
- Why map a novel?
- How were the novels chosen?
- How to use Literary Atlas?
- How to contribute to Literary Atlas?
- Who is the Literary Atlas team?
- How to contact or follow Literary Atlas?
What is Literary Atlas?
Literary Atlas is an interactive online atlas of English-language novels set in Wales.
Literary Atlas also includes maps which locate the main geographical locations of all English-language novels in the Welsh collections of Cardiff University, Swansea University, and the National Library of Wales. Explore these locations.
Literary Atlas includes 'distant' maps and 'deep' maps which locate all geographical references (or 'plotpoints') in twelve English-language novels primarily set in Wales.
Literary Atlas includes artistic 'maps' of these twelve novels which offer unique and provocative interpretations of what we might call the 'literary geographies' of these books.
Literary Atlas includes maps which locate all the blue writer's plaques which commemorate the links between particular geographical sites and famous Welsh writers.
Through using 'distant', 'deep' and 'artistic' variations on mapping, Literary Atlas hopes to stimulate new understandings of literature and place and the geographical nature of the human condition.
How does Literary Atlas map novels?
In order to map the main geographical locations of all English-language novels in the Welsh collection databases of Cardiff University, Swansea University, and the National Library of Wales, each book was found in the respective libraries, its primary setting identified, and this geographical reference plotted on a digital map.
In order to map all geographical references (or 'plotpoints') in twelve English-language novels primarily set in Wales, each chosen novel was read, and all geographical references recorded. These were then translated into co-ordinates of longitude and latitude, and plotted on a digital map. These 'distant' maps of plotpoints can be found here (all plotpoints) and here (coverage maps).
'Deep' maps of these twelve novels were also created. These deep maps augment the plotpoints with a range of supplementary materials to 'deepen' understanding of the relations between literature and geography. These supplementary materials include: selected extracts from the chosen novels, excerpts from interviews undertaken with authors and experts; audio extracts from the novels read by the author and the Literary Atlas team; street-view images of the novel's locations; historical and contemporary maps of the novel's locations; photos and films connected to the sites of the novel (historical and contemporary); and commentary from the Literary Atlas team.
These deep maps can be navigated independently by the Literary Atlas user but they are also curated into specific 'plotlines'. These plotlines are suggested routes through the literary and geographical 'landscape' of the novel, narrating insights into the 'plot' of both. The Literary Atlas user will be able to choose a plotline for a particular novel and 'scroll' through its deep map to gain a new understanding of the relations between literature and geography. It is possible to follow these plotlines on a computer, tablet or smartphone in any location – enabling the user to engage with these routes virtually, and walk them in practice.
Why map a novel?
Literary Atlas maps English-language novels set in Wales in order to gain fresh insights into the ways literature plays its part in the connection between who we are as individuals and groups, and the geographical locations which help to shape these identities.
It is hoped that Literary Atlas will also serve to celebrate and champion the quality, strength and diversity of English-language novels set in Wales, encourage people to read these and other books, and be inspired to visit the locations in which these stories are set.
How were the novels chosen?
As the Literary Atlas maps of all the novels on Welsh Collections databases suggest, there are many English-language books set in Wales. Literary Atlas has chosen twelve novels to map in a 'distant', 'deep', and 'artistic' fashion. These novels were chosen on the following criteria:
- The narrative must be based in Wales, with a specific Welsh place or region as central to the narrative.
- The book must be originally written in English. There is a rich and distinct Anglophone literary tradition which is worth studying in its own right. This criterion is not meant to downplay the wealth of Welsh-language literature in print. Were this to be a comprehensive atlas of literary Wales, Welsh-medium writing and literature in both languages other than the novel would have to be included. The Atlas could be extended or used as a model to include Welsh or other languages in the future.
- The books must be works of fiction, and take the form of the novel. This was a pragmatic scoping decision in order that we can provide a clear focus for the Literary Atlas, and offer scope to expand the site to plays, poems, short stories or non-fiction in future.
- The novels should be offer a cross-section of genre, and represent different eras in Wales' Anglophone literary history.
- The novels should offer as broad a geographical coverage as possible.
- The novels should represent a broad diversity of authors active in Wales (in relation to gender, ethnicity, age etc.). The book does not have to be by a Welsh-born author.
The final list should include both 'classic' Welsh fiction but also contemporary writers in order to draw attention to new materials alongside established works. From these criteria, the Literary Atlas team consulted with a range of academic and literary experts in Wales, as well as asking the public to offer their own choices for selection. A long list of novels was drawn up from the Welsh Collections' databases, and from this long list, a short list of twelve were chosen.
Author long list included: Tom Bullough, Nikiti Lalwani, Gwyneth Lewis, Owen Sheers, Sean Burke, John Williams, Tom Anderson, Tessa Hadley, Niall Griffiths, Malcolm Pryce, Richard Collins, Grahame Davies, Amy Dillwyn, Allen Raine, Hilda Vaughan, Owen Sheers, Iain Sinclair, Gwyn Thomas, Catrin Dafydd, Raymond Williams, Ron Berry, Lloyd Jones, Sian James, Cynan Jones, Fflur Dafydd, Rachel Tresize, Tristan Hughes, Emyr Humphreys, , Joe Dunthorne, Christopher Meredith, Stevie Davies, Erica Wooff, Dan Rhodes, Catherine Merriman, Lewis Jones, Menna Gallie, Bruce Chatwin, Glyn Jones, Dannie Abse, Rhys Davies, Trezza Azzopardi, Arthur MachenDuncan Bush, Richard Llewellyn, Alexander Cordell, , Alan Garner, A J Cronin, …
How to use Literary Atlas?
Navigate your way through the site, following either authors or books that interest you, and (re)discover Wales through its contemporary and historical English-language novels.
How to contribute to Literary Atlas?
The Literary Atlas is a 'living document', as such the Literary Atlas team welcomes your comments. Please let us know what new titles you would like to see included on the Literary Atlas, suggest or contribute materials that could be added to existing plotlines (e.g. images, histories, films), or even have your own literature added to the site through contributing a microfiction (or short story of no more than 200 words) which is set in a location in Wales. You can contact the Literary Atlas by email .
Tell us what you think about Literary Atlas by taking the survey.
Who is the Literary Atlas team?
The Literary Atlas team is led by Professor Jon Anderson (Cardiff University) and Professor Kirsti Bohata (Swansea University), with Dr Kieron Smith and Dr Jeffrey Morgan (Cardiff University). Professor Damian Walford Davies (Cardiff University) is Academic Mentor to the project. Literature Wales is a Literary Atlas partner, as is the Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research, Data and Methods (WISERD). The Literary Atlas is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.