"Working eighteen hours a day to walk 3,000 miles of London’s streets, the artist Phyllis Pearsall (1906-1996) not only conceived, designed and produced the A-Z street atlas of London, but founded her own company to publish it. The A-Z remains one of the most ingenious examples of early 20th century information design.
Realising that she did not know the location of the party to which she was invited in the London district of Belgravia one evening in 1935, Phyllis Pearsall armed herself with the most recently published London street map she could find. It was the 1919 Ordnance Survey map and, hard though she tried, Pearsall could not find the address of the party.
Pearsall decided to devise a more efficient means of helping other people to navigate the labyrinthine London streets. Working from her bedsit on Horseferry Road near Victoria Station, she set off early each morning to walk – and catalogue – the streets of the city. As London was so big, rather than produce a cumbersome map, which would be very hard to read as each street, bridge or building would be so small in scale, Pearsall decided to divide it into different sections, each of which would be coded in an index."