The Dictionary of Imaginary Places

the dictionary

The Dictionary of Imaginary Places, by Alberto Manguel and Gianni Guadalupi, Illustrated by Graham Greenfield, Maps and Charts by James Cook, published in  1980. I’m not entirely sure, but I think I might have picked this book up a few years ago at The Book Gallery (see previous post –

This book is seriously the coolest. It is literally a dictionary of imaginary places (that existed before 1980). That doesn’t just mean it has ‘Middle Earth,’ it has every location in Middle Earth, complete with a description of the location, and the people who inhabit it, where it is located and a reference to the literary work in which it is from. Some entries even have maps, sketches and charts. I have found entries that are from literature from the 14th century, right up until 1980.

middle earth

One thing I think is really cool is that if the imaginary place is on Earth, there is a map showing where it would be in relation to the real world. In addition, the book shows more than just cities, it has individual buildings or landmarks and often includes floor plans of buildings as well.

I only recognize a fraction of the places listed in this book and most of the ones I do are from Tolkien’s mythology. But it’s cool to flip through and find Emerald City, and Narnia. I would love to see an updated version of this book published just so I could see some of my favourite books/places included (Kingkiller chronicles, Harry Potter & Inheritance Cycle, the Maze Runner) that were published after 1980.

I have some books that are similar to this – two dictionaries of Tolkien’s mythology and a Tolkien Bestiary. The former being a dictionary of every person place or thing that exists in the Tolkien universe and the later focusing on the beasts (which includes people, elves, etc.). I find them all fascinating and the one’s that focus on Tolkien are essential if you are going to take on the Silmarillion or other background texts.


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