Mark Ovenden is an author, lecturer and television/radio presenter. His books have been translated into many languages with sales approaching 200,000. His recent TV documentary for BBC4 has been seen by almost half a million viewers. A documentary for BBC Radio 4 told the story of the rise of Manchester's skyscrapers. Mark apparently: "brings joyful insight and accessibility to what might on the surface appear dry or technical subjects". His infectious enthusiasm in Arts Society lectures is said to "enthral audiences".

His books and talks focus on the design, architecture, cartography, signage and typefaces in the world of transport. He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society with a large social media following. He was born and brought up in London but also lived in various cities in France, the USA, and UK.

His background was in broadcast and print media. Before returning to his love of cartography in the early "noughties" (a collective term for the decade he claims to have first coined on radio in the 1990s), he worked as a presenter and producer for the BBC and commercial radio stations. At Radio 1 he was fortunate to produce programmes for John Peel and Annie Nightingale, and has also worked for Kiss 102, MTV, Ministry of Sound and others.

His first book Metro Maps of The World published in 2003 was followed by one about the Paris Metro. Another was on the subject of Railway Maps, and the next on the 150th anniversary of the London Underground, published in 2012 and several others since focussed on Manchester Metrolink, Typefaces, Airline Maps and Underground Cities... he is currently based on the Isle of Wight.

The New York Times called his books "pure catnip", The Daily Telegraph and Guardian both chose "Two Types: The Faces of Britain", presented by Ovenden as their "Pick of the Day" (31st July 2017): the Guardian calling it "fascinating".

Paris Underground - Penguin Books
London Underground - BBC News
Railway Maps of the World - BBC
BBC4 Documentary on Typefaces (2017)


Mark is a highly rated** public speaker, presenter and host who can be booked for your event. Please phone or email for details (see "ContactMark" tab).


Mark has been an accredited lecturer for the Arts Society since 2019, and has delivered hundreds of illustrated talks all over the UK, and also around the world for the AS and other prestigious organisations. He has been a keynote speaker or lecturer at international transport, design, architecture, media and cartography events.

His current selection of lecture subjects include:

  • 160 years of London Underground Design
  • Margaret Calvert: The Woman Who Told Us Where To Go
  • Around The World In Aviation Maps and Posters
  • Railway Maps & Posters of the World
  • The Northern Powerhouse
  • Weird and wacky transit maps of the world

He has delivered talks like this:

  • Keynote: Oregon Transportation Summit.
  • After Dinner speaker: Wynkyn de Worde Society.
  • Illustrated lectures such as in: Berlin (2023), Boston, Chicago (American Institute of Graphic Arts), Glasgow (Royal Scottish Geographical Society), Madrid (Transit Mapping Symposium), Munich (Digital Broadcasting seminar), New York City (Transit Museum), Paris (Salon de livres), Vienna (UITP Design Panel), Washington DC.
  • UK lectures delivered for/at: British Cartographic Society, British Library, Chelsea School of Art, London Transport Museum, Manchester Central Library, National Railway Museum, St. Brides Printing Library, St. Martin's School of Art, University of the Third Age, Workers Educational Association.


    Being a panel chair, competition judge, guest interviewer or event host comes naturally to him following his media career.

    **Reviews & Testimonials

    Selection of recent feedback (2021) from UK Arts Societies:

    • "Outstanding. A very professional delivery, full of energy and clear enthusiasm for the subject"
    • "An interesting, informative and most enjoyable lecture. Mark's knowledge of his subject is outstanding and his friendly presentation was a joy. We would like to invite Mark back again on another occasion."
    • "Mark was a warm and knowledgeable speaker with fascinating images"
    • "Excellent. Very engaging and lively style."
    • "Really fascinating and informative lecture - excellent, enthusiastic feedback from members"
    • "Knowledgeable, comprehensive and a friendly, easy manner."
    • "Interesting, informative and well illustrated with good use of several "props" from Mark's own collection of memorabilia. There was a healthy number of questions from members at the end which showed how strong Mark's rapport with his audience was."