Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Journey's End

Phyllis Gross Pearsall
Creator of London A-Z map
September 25, 1906-August 28, 1996
Mrs. P's Journey has come to an end.

The poorly written book drove me nuts as I have already expressed in previous posts. Putting that aside, I was impressed with Phyllis Pearsall's life as a businesswoman and a painter. She loved painting. Watercolors and oils. She and her husband of eight years (a very unsatisfactory marriage that ended quite suddenly when Phyllis left him in Venice) traveled and painted in Spain, France, and Italy. She eventually wrote a book about that time. In her later years, after she turned her map-making company over to her employees (it is still going) she would spend hours painting and at the drop of a hat would fly off to Paris, her brushes and paints just about the only things she would pack.

As for her A-Z map of London, it is said that she worked 18-hour days in the early 1930s walking the 23,000 streets of London and making note of house numbers, buildings, museums, bus and tram routes and the backest of alleys. Then came the indexing and alphabetizing of each street, avenue, mews, courtyard, alley, and lane. She accomplished this all before computers of course. In 1936, once W.H. Smith booksellers gave the map a try, Londoners flocked to buy her A-Z.  She carted the orders herself through the city. She was a hard worker and even after she was very seriously injured in a plane wreck in the late 1940s, she carried on.

She was a spry and spirited woman. Her motto: On we go.

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