The Plebs Atlas

Ref: C2338887

The Plebs Atlas was written and illustrated by Frank Horrabin, a political cartoonist, cartographer and newspaper editor in the 1930's who worked with George Orwell, HG Wells, Ellen Wilkinson and Jawaharlal Nehru. His 1938 atlas was intended to provide information about world resources, industrialisation and power relations for adult education "worker" students interested in current affairs. On this course we will look how the Plebs Atlas fits into the historical and social context of the interwar period and how Horrabin uses maps to depict the then dominant powers such as Britain and the USA and shows how emerging nations like Germany and Japan were challenging them in the buildup to WWII.

Course aim

This course aims to introduce and study the innovative cartography of political cartoonist Frank Horrabin and to examine the historical and cultural context of his 1938 educational maps of current affairs prior to WWII.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Discuss how the Plebs Atlas differs from ordinary atlases of the period and today.
  • Comment on how Horrabin's maps represent economics, industrialisation and power in the world prior to WWII.
  • Identify it's strengths and weaknesses as an educational resource.

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning
  • You may be asked to undertake additional work in your own time to support your learning

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • You will have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor
  • You will be encouraged to share your work with the group and discuss your learning

What else do I need to know?

  • Nothing else is needed

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading is required but research on the subject on the internet or in the library may be helpful

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider
  • You could progress to Higher Education courses. Follow link to the PEARL website for information

Download full Course information sheet

The Plebs Atlas


You can if you meet all of the following requirements:

  • are paying the standard fee or are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • are paying with a credit/debit card or are not paying a fee because of a qualifying benefit
  • have a valid email address
  • have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2017
  • have read and accept the standard terms and conditions
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