The map of it all

In Penelope Molly recalls a concert "over a year ago" in which she participated "on account of father being in the army and my singing the absentminded beggar and wearing a brooch for Lord Roberts when I had the map of it all." This was no doubt a fundraising event for troops fighting in the second Boer War, a cause dear to Molly because her father was a career soldier in the British army. Lord Roberts commanded the British forces in South Africa for one year (January-December 1900), so it makes sense that Molly wore a brooch bearing his image in the concert. Roberts remained very popular after handing the reins over to Lord Kitchener, and such brooches were commonplace in the UK. Fundraisers were still being conducted in 1903. But "the map of it all" is obscure. A 50-year string of commentary has implausibly interpreted these words as referring to Molly's face, or Lord Roberts', but a correspondent has recently advanced a much more sensible explanation: Molly once owned a handkerchief which displayed a map of South Africa.

JH 2022

A 1901 handkerchief produced to raise money for the war by the Daily Mail, with images of Lord Roberts, Rudyard Kipling and Arthur Sullivan's The Absentminded Beggar, a map of South Africa, and Queen Victoria. Source:

Another handkerchief with identical images, this one dated 1899.

A silk handkerchief bearing the image of Lord Roberts, ca. 1910.

A British pin-brooch with the image of Lord Roberts, date unknown.