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The Making Of The English Landscape

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  143 Ratings  ·  14 Reviews
'No one before has ever brought out with quite the same vividness the historical background of the country all around us' - "Guardian" - a classic of English landscape history, reissued in its fiftieth anniversary year. First published in 1955 by Hodder, "The Making Of The English Landscape" is a classic of English history. It was the first book to study, literally, the hi ...more
Paperback, 328 pages
Published December 5th 2005 by Hodder & Stoughton Ltd (first published 1955)
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Lee Broderick
Some books have a reputation that precedes them. I'd been meaning to read The Making of the English Landscape ever since my first degree. It's an acknowledged classic in a discipline which has very few. Given that context, it's probably no surprise that in some ways it couldn't live up to my expectations.

This is a classic for it's subject as much as for its prose. In weaving his narrative, W.G. Hoskins leans heavily on the East Midlands and, to a lesser extent, mid-Devon. Since he grew up in t
Dec 30, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an interesting read - rather dated in style and the writing can be tough to get through at times as he doesn't write well for a general audience, but for enthusiasts (consequently he can take several pages going into far too much detail while missing points that might be of more advantage to a general reader).

What I liked was the way it encourages you to read the language of the landscape - when telltale shadows of the past show through to the modern day: why does a road take an apparen
Nov 11, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
A little dated (published fifty years ago), but still interesting, this book was apparently the first real attempt to explain why the English landscape (insofar as it is man-made) is the way that it is. I love books like this (my archetypal example being "Guns, Germs, and Steel" by Jared Diamond), so when I saw this one in a Cambridge bookstore, I didn't hesitate. And although it isn't perfect, I'm glad I did.

Hoskins wants us to open our eyes to the presence of history in the physical world arou
Aug 09, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-english
Really interesting overview of the English landscape and its development in terms of villages, towns, and cities. Very interesting.
Charles Sheard
I love this subject, and I feel the book is a necessary read if you care for the subject in general, and English landscape history in particular. But this book stemmed from five separate radio broadcasts Hoskins gave, and ultimately, that set up the major flaws of this book. In the first place, the author repeats himself far too often, which is something you would expect when he is touching on the same context in successive radio addresses, but is not something you expect when he just covered th ...more
Shelly Dennison
Jul 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Interesting, if dated, narrative history of the development of the English landscape. The turn of phrase often reminds you that this was written in the 1950s, and of course this also means that the modern day England he describes doesn't bear that much resemblance to ours. That said, the book did make me want to get out and look at different landscapes through fresh eyes and it was good that it wasn't all rural but looked at towns, canals and industry too. Geographically it concentrates on the M ...more
Sep 03, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In places, this book retains the superb insights and evocations of a sense of place that make it a deserved classic. However, in other chapters, it is starting to show its age. But then, few history books have any relevance 60 years after publication, so Hoskins' work is doing well to still be hanging in there.
Feb 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Xander Mitchell
Jan 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
A book with a title that speaks for itself. Great companion to any study of British landscape.

This is a natural history of the physical environment we live in, both urban and rural, following the effects of successive invasions, colonisations, cultural developments and world events on shaping that landscape.
This is a seminal text, but it reads like a text book, (it's a core text on most undergraduate geography and countryside management courses) which it became shortly after the acclaim it received after it's first publishing.
It's fascinating and informative but won't convert anybody who
Jan 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Just as the parliamentary act of enclosure brought large tracts of barren land and open farm land into more productive use, so the information in this book has filled in a lot of blank areas in my knowledge of the development of the English countryside. The later chapters dealing with the impact of the canals and railroads and of the growth of the industrial cities and the cause of slums was particularly fascinating. Obviously, at the time of writing, he deeply lamented the crassness of the Cold ...more
May 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Richard Thomas
Oct 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: landscape
Essential for any bookshelf. Deep learning, lightly expressed and fascinating throughut.
Mar 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant. Highly recommended.
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“Poets make the best topographers.” 4 likes
“Know most of the rooms of thy native country before thou goest over the threshold thereof. Especially seeing England presents thee with so many observables.” 4 likes
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