The Poly-Olbion Project

Poly-Olbion is an expansive poetic journey through the landscape, history, traditions and customs of early modern England and Wales. Originally published in two parts (1612, 1622), it is also a richly collaborative work: Michael Drayton’s 15,000-line poem, which navigates the nation county by county, is embellished by William Hole’s thirty exquisite engraved county maps, and accompanied for its first eighteen ‘songs’ by the young John Selden’s remarkable prose ‘Illustrations’.

The core purpose of The Poly-Olbion Project, based at the University of Exeter and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, is to produce a new scholarly edition of the text. In addition, the project aims to generate some fresh critical work, including a conference at the Royal Geographical Society in September 2015, and culminating in the publication of an edited volume of critical essays.

We are also committed to bringing Poly-Olbion to a wider audience. This website, in due course, will provide a gateway to a full text of Drayton’s poem, along with selected extracts modernized and introduced for general reading or teaching purposes.