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Strange Maps

157 – “Really, Miss Henderson!”


There´s a certain type of children´s literature that just positively requires a map at the end paper of the book. The map is there either to show an itinerary that is crucial to the story, or to enhance the ´piratesque´quality of the work – or both. This map is an example from a children´s book called ´Really, Miss Henderson´ from 1945. As you can see, the War had cost the lives of many, many good illustrators (unless this was an active attempt at creating a ´naive´-style map).I have never heard of the book, so if I had to surmise the story from this map alone, I´d guess that:

  • a group of British eccentrics (women and men, most of whom in the military) was shipwrecked in a small, isolated archipelago in the South Seas called the Pongawabu Islands.
  • One island is important because it has a freshwater well, but also dangerous because there are cannibals and at least one serpent – deadly, one supposes. This situation generates much of the tension and action in the story:
  • Major Crick and Miss Henderson are stuck on Cod Island, together with a rather large mouse. Imagine the hilarious and semi-romantic storylines one could come up with, using only these ingredients.
  • An unnamed island holds a cask of brandy and may thus be partially responsible for the sightings of mermaids by Colonel Farquhar, not to mention the flying pig.
  • On an outlying island, there is a case of sardines. The shipwreck survivors have to get over their differences and band together to obtain the food that will sustain them during their ordeal.
  • The lady in distress is very mysterious because of her immodest dress sense. She might be a native maiden, but then a very pale one. Surely,she can´t be English! Maybe she´s French?This map was found here at, a site that collects some interesting examples of end paper maps in books.

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