Last month, the Independent ran a column naming what it deemed to be the 10 best fictional countries created by writers. None of Waugh’s efforts made the first cut, but the response was so great that a second round was published, expanding the list to the top 50. Waugh’s “Ishmaelia” from Scoop
(1938) is named in this new list, nominated by three readers:
Ishmaelia. Scoop, by Evelyn Waugh, with its “very promising little war” (Lord Copper). Nick Reid, Dan Kelly and Fiona Laird.
Not mentioned is another fictional county of Waugh’s, “Azania” from Black Mischief, effectively the same country as Ishmaelia but with a different fictional history and slightly different geography. Waugh may be, if not unique, at least one of the few novelists to have done a double.
Coincidentally, the map of Azania provided at the beginning of Waugh’s novel bears some resemblance to the 1669 map of Atlantis which illustrates the Independent‘s article. The Azania map’s cartographer is not identified, but Waugh executed several drawings for a limited edition of Black Mischief and may well have also drawn or contributed to the map. Later editions include some of the drawings, as well as the map, all of which are attributed to Waugh in the Penguin version.