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Norden, John


Subject Literature » Renaissance Literature

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405194495.2012.x


John Norden (c. 1547–1625) was a devotional writer, chorographer, surveyor, and advocate for the surveyor's art. Born to a genteel family in Somerset, he entered Hart Hall, Oxford in 1564, taking his BA in 1568 and his MA in 1573. Norden married, had at least two sons, one of whom worked with him on some of his surveys, and died in 1625. Norden is remembered chiefly as a chorographer, a maker of regional maps and descriptions. He was commissioned by the crown in the early 1590s ‘to make more perfect descriptions, charts, and maps’ of the English counties, though he was never salaried. In 1593 he published his first fulfilment of this commission: Speculum Britanniae. The first parte. An historical and chorographicall discription of Middlesex . In 1594–95 he prepared and presented to Queen Elizabeth maps and descriptions of Surrey, Essex, Sussex, Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, Jersey, and Guernsey. Although a description and map of Hertfordshire appeared in 1597, Norden did not receive the royal finance he sought and the majority of his descriptions were unpublished in his lifetime. In 1596 he felt sufficiently under siege to publish a Preparative to his Speculum Britanniae , a tract that defends his methods. Ultimately the crown withdrew its support for Norden's chorographic project. Instead, it supplied him with the best-rewarded and most productive employment of his career, making ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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