The Urban Legend of Phyllis Pearsall
Peter Watts (the British journalist, not the Canadian science fiction writer) pours cold water on the urban myth that Phyllis Pearsall walked 3,000 miles of London streets — repeated by yours truly as well as many others — to create the famous A to Z map of the city. He quotes Peter Barber, head of the British Library’s map department, who calls the story “complete rubbish”: Pearsall’s father had produced map books of London, which, Barber believes, Pearsall simply updated. The story was an exercise in marketing and myth-making — an effective one, if we’re still repeating it decades later. Via @HodderGeography.