Phyllis Pearsall, who created the famous “A to Z” maps of London by traversing more than 3,000 miles of roads throughout the city, died Wednesday, her business, Geographers’ A-Z Map Co., said Thursday. She was 89.
Pearsall began producing her maps, which show London’s labyrinth of streets from the busiest thoroughfares to the tiniest cul-de-sacs, after getting lost using a map that was 17 years old but proved to be the most up-to-date available.
To get her first edition right, she often walked for 18 hours a day, eventually covering some 23,000 roads.
In 1936 Pearsall printed 10,000 copies of her maps. She persuaded W.H. Smith, the British bookseller, to place an order for 250 copies, promising a refund if they went unsold. The maps were an instant success.