Islomania is a recognized affliction. But what is it about islands that is so alluring, and why do so many people find these self-contained worlds completely irresistible? Utopia and Atlantis were islands, and islands have captured the imaginations of writers and artists for centuries. Venetian sailors were the first to make collections of them by drawing maps of those they visited in their isolari – literally the ‘island books’. Then in 1719 Daniel Defoe published his tale of a castaway on a desert island, Robinson Crusoe, one of the first great novels in the history of literature and an instant bestseller. Defoe’s tale combined the real and the imagined and transformed them into a compelling creative landscape, establishing a whole literary genre and unleashing the power of an island for storytelling.
To celebrate the tercentenary of Robinson Crusoe’s publication, a truly international range of leading illustrators imagine they too have been washed up on their own remote island. In a specially created map they visualize what it looks like, what it’s called and what can be found on its mythical shores. In a panoply of astonishingly creative and often surprising responses, we are invited to explore a curious and fabulous archipelago of islands of invention that will beguile illustrators, cartographers and dreamers alike.