The Making of the English Landscape


The Making of the English Landscape is a 1955 book by the English local historian William George Hoskins. It is illustrated with 82 monochrome plates, mostly photographs by Hoskins himself, and 17 maps or plans. It has appeared in at least 35 editions and reprints in English and other languages. The book is a landscape history of England and a seminal text in that discipline and in local history. The brief history of some one thousand years is widely used in local and environmental history courses.Hoskins defines the theme of the book in the first chapter, arguing that a landscape historian needs to use botany, physical geography and natural history as well as historical knowledge to interpret any given scene fully. The remaining chapters describe how the English landscape was formed from the Anglo-Saxon period onwards, starting c. 450 AD, and looking in detail at the mediaeval landscape, the depopulation following the Black Death, the Tudor period through to the splendour of the Georgian period, the parliamentary enclosures that affected much of the English midlands, the industrial revolution, the development of road, canal, and railway transport networks, and finally the growth of towns from Norman times onwards. There is little mention of cities. The concluding chapter however laments the damage done to the English countryside by "the villainous requirements of the new age" such as military airfields and arterial roads, describes the new England as barbaric, and invites the reader to contemplate the past. The work has been widely admired, but also described as grandly emotive, populist, and openly anti-modernist. Writers have praised the book for helping them understand and interpret the landscape in which they lived.
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date of publication: 1955
main subject: landscape history

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