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Shakespeare Connected - Storms and Watercolours: Visualising Shakespeare's Nature

Russiae, Moscaviae et Tartariae, Abraham Ortelius, 1595.

Perspectives on nature in Shakespeare’s lifetime were partially shaped by substantial developments in cartography. Abraham Ortelius was one of the pioneers of new cartographic practices, necessitated by the contemporary growth in international trade. The natural world was closely related to economic and political concerns. The influence of this cartographic gaze, closely connected to questions of land ownership, is evidenced in the opening of King Lear. The tragedy is set in motion by Lear’s attempted division of his kingdom into three, which he dramatically demonstrates by using a map: ‘Give me the map there. Know we have divided / In three our kingdom…’ (King Lear 1.37-38)


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