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William ‘Strata’ Smith, 1769–1839, also known as the ‘Father of English Geology’.


With the recent publication of Simon Winchester's The Map that Changed the World, a new audience of readers were awakened to the relatively unsung achievements of an 18th century Englishman.

William Smith's unique map, depicting the geology of England, Wales, and part of Scotland helped to shape the economic and scientific development of Britain, just as the country was experiencing the Industrial Revolution and shaping international events on the world stage.

Smith's map is now freely available to view on mobile devices through the BGS's iGeology app.

These pages provide a brief biography of William Smith, describing the man, his ambitions, and his unique achievement. Original publications by Smith held at the BGS are listed.

We also offer the opportunity to buy reproductions of the following geological maps:

  • William Smith's 1815 map
  • Prints of four of William Smith's County-series maps
  • William Smith's 1820 map — an updated version of his larger 1815 map.

 Strata Smith: The Man & The Map

 William Smith's map

William Smith

  • Life and work
  • Mapping England and Wales
  • Systematic mapping
  • Works by William Smith
  • Works about William Smith
  • Publications


British Geological Survey

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