MRS P'S JOURNEY is the enchanting story of Phyllis Pearsall. Born Phyllis Isobella Gross, her lifelong nickname was PIG. The artist daughter of a flamboyant Hungarian Jewish immigrant, and an Irish Italian mother, her bizarre and often traumatic childhood did not restrain her from becoming one of Britain's most intriguing entrepreneurs and self-made millionaires. After an unsatisfactory marriage, Phyllis, a thirty-year-old divorcee, had to support herself and so became a portrait painter. It is doing this job and trying to find her patron's houses that Phyllis became increasingly frustrated at the lack of proper maps of London. Instead of just cursing the fact as many fellow Londoners probably did, Phyllis decided to do something about it. Without hesitation she covered London's 23,000 streets on foot during the course of one year, often leaving her Horseferry Road bedsit at dawn to do so. To publish the map, and in light of its enormous success, she sets up her own company, The Geographer's Trust, which still publishes the London A-Z and that of every major British city. MRS P'S JOURNEY is the account of a strong, independent woman who has left behind an enduring legacy.
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(198mm x 129mm x 1mm)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Country of Publication:
UK Kirkus Review »
'The Remarkable Story of the Woman Who Created the A-Z Map' is the appropriate subtitle of Sarah Hartley's biography of Phyllis Pearsall, who in 1936, at the age of 30, single-handedly undertook the task of traipsing around all of London's then 23,000 streets to produce the first A-Z, which she managed to sell to W H Smith, having delivered her maps to the company's offices in a wheelbarrow. The book, an instant success, made Phyllis a millionaire and enabled her to establish The Geographers' Map Company, which still publishes the A-Z of London and of every major city in Britain. Phyllis was born in London to an eccentric Hungarian Jewish immgrant who himself became a millionaire through mapmaking and a highly-strung Irish-Italian mother who wrote plays and was to end her days in a lunatic asylum. Phyllis's childhood was often traumatic, not because her parents were ungenerous - one of her birthday presents was a baby elephant - but because of their incessant squabbling and eventual divorce, which left emotional scars on their daughter. Slight in physical stature, yet tough, feisty, and independent in spirit, Phyllis eschewed convention to lead a somewhat Bohemian existence as a painter, travelling widely in Europe and studying in the exciting Paris of the 1920s, where she slept under bridges and encountered the likes of Nabokov, Hemingway, Pound and Beckett. In Venice she walked out on her husband after a loveless and childless eight-year marriage. She was to die in England in 1995 at the age of 89. This is a highly enjoyable first book by Sarah Hartley, who has painstakingly researched the life of her subject. It is always refreshing to read about someone who felt such little compunction to conform to the expectations of others. (Kirkus UK)
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Author Biography - Sarah Hartley
Sarah Hartley is commissioning editor at the DAILY MAIL. Prior to that she worked on TATLER, FRANK and most recently THE TIMES. This is her first book.