My name is John Wyatt Greenlee, and I am a life-long map enthusiast. I love how maps can make fantasy worlds come alive, and how they can give context to histories. Maps help us imagine places — they show us a place and then let us travel there, either in reality or in our minds. Since I was a kid I’ve had maps and charts on my walls, and maps are the first thing I turn to when I open a new book.

I have been drawing maps for much of my adult life. Some small, and some quite large.

Wall map, Kerrville TX, 2008

My interest in maps goes beyond an appreciation of their aesthetics and storytelling. I have a PhD in medieval history, with a focus on the history of maps and map making. I have written articles on cartographic analysis, setting maps within their historical and cultural contexts. And I’ve built multiple digital projects annotating medieval map. I strongly believe that maps can open doors of understanding for us, giving us unique glimpses into the past. I maintain a website with mapping and map related projects at:

In addition to maps, I spend time working on my other major academic interest: the role of eels in human history. I am The Surprised Eel Historian on Twitter — perhaps the world’s only eel historian! I got to the study of eels by wondering what they were doing on pre-modern maps of Europe. My work has combined eels and maps, and that is reflected in the Surprised Eel Maps name and logo.

When I’m not writing or drawing maps, I keep busy playing volleyball and trying to keep up with my two young children, and our brittany spaniel.