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John Ogilby
(1600 - 1676)

John Ogilby (November 17, 1600 - 1676) was a Scottish translator and cartographer. John Ogilby's life seems to be one of extremes, teetering between wealth and poverty, success and failure. Ogilby was born near Edinburgh, Scotland, into a once wealthy family laid low by extreme debt. Struggling with poverty at every turn, Ogilby involved himself in various businesses ranging from dancing master, to actor, to tutor. In 1612, at age 12, Ogilby won a lottery run to advance the colonial interests of Virginia. His winning were sufficient to pay of many of his father's debts and apprentice himself to a dancing master. Ogilby proved a natural and graceful dancer and even made extra money tutoring his fellow apprentices. Starcrossed as he was, Olgiby's dancing career ended when a misstep when a misstep at a masked ball injured his leg and left him lame for live. Afterwards he managed to leverage his contacts in the dance world to secure a position as a dance instructor to the daughters of Sir Ralph Hopton. Hopton struck an immediate friendship with Olgiby and trained him in Military Science. Later Ogilby relocated to Ireland where he worked an as actor and later as Master of Revels. The Irish Rebellion of 1641 again dashed Ogilby's fortunes and forced him to flee Dublin by ship. On the way, the ship sunk but the survivors were rescued and eventually made their way to England, which was then under the strict rule of Oliver Cromwell. Ogilby took refuge at Cambridge where he mastered Greek and Latin. Following the Restoration of Charles II, Ogilby invested in his first major literary venture, a translation of Virgil into English. This work earned him the patronage of Charles II, despite the ridicule of prominent poets Dryden and Pope. Under Royal patronage Ogilby published several volumes relating to the Restoration. In short order he has established a successful London publisher based out of the Whitefriars district. This, unfortunately turned out to be a fateful choice of location as in 1666 the Great Fire of London tore through this are destroying Ogilby's publishing stock, home, and business. Once again Ogilby exhibited a remarkable phoenix-like ability to literally rise from the ashes. Shortly after the Great Fire, he began his most important ventures as a publisher of geographical works. In order to recover from the fire, Ogilby and his grandson were took positions as surveyors comissioned to create a large property map of London. The resultant map of London, "London Survey'd", was published in 1677 and earned Ogilby the honorific "Kings Cosmographer and Geographic Printer". His most famous works are his 1675 Road Atlas of England, Britannia which redefined road mapping, and his 1671 Atlas of the Americas. Click here for a list of rare maps from John Ogilby.

Rare maps by John Ogilby currently for sale.

Rare maps by John Ogilby in the Geographicus Antique Map Archive.

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