This handsome chap with his periwig and modest collar is John Ogilby, a man who reinvented himself whenever necessary and who seems to have been a roaring success at whatever he tried.
Born in Scotland in 1600, he had to support his family when his father was imprisoned and did this by firstly winning a lottery, then by using part of the money to apprentice himself to a dancing master. He was soon good enough to open his own studio but was rendered penniless again when he was injured while performing. Using his contacts he found a place as a dancing tacher with The Earl of Strafford who took him to Ireland and sponsored him in starting Irelands first theatre. Ogilby became a theatre impresario until the rebellion of 1641, got involved in the fighting, escaped an exploding castle and was shipwrecked as he fled Ireland.
He arrived in England penniless again, walked to Cambridge and decided to learn Latin. He so impressed the scholars that they taught him for free and in 1650 published a translation of Virgil that netted him a small fortune. Ogilby decided to give Greek a go next. Looking ahead, he started a publishing business to print his own books and his illustrated translations of Aesop and Homer became all the rage.
Once Charles II was on the throne, England, and Ireland was ready for the theatre again so Ogilby returned to Dublin, built a new theatre and wrote music for the plays. With that endeavor a success, for once, he returned to London to start a new publishing venture and had a bright idea. With the help of some of the finest artists and engravers of the time he made the Britannia, Britain’s first road atlas. Despite losing almost everything, again, in the Great Fire of London, he rebounded and at the age of 74 was appointed “His Majesty’s Cosmographer and Geographic Printer”!
So how many careers was that? Dancer, dance teacher, theatre manager, student, scholar, translator, publisher, writer of show tunes, geographer, and finally publisher by appointment to His Majesty the King.
I find his road maps particularly interesting because they just show the road and what one might encounter along it, although he took some artistic licence with the depiction of the more picturesque bits of scenery. This is the one for where I live.
PS just noticed I got the date wrong on this one, which should have appeared yesterday, so you’ll get another later tonight.