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Cross-Channel Geographers: a century of activity.

Géographes trans-Manche: un siècle d’activité
Hugh Clout


Malgré leur proximité spatiale, les géographes britanniques et leurs collègues français ont entrepris peu de recherches sur la géographie de l’autre pays. Cet article analyse – d’une façon personnelle - la production géographique trans-Manche pendant le 20e siècle, soulignant l’individualité des auteurs, leurs milieux académiques et leurs orientations dans la discipline. Les géographes français ont mis l’accent sur la géographie physique des Iles Britanniques, mais leurs collègues britanniques, au contraire, ont préféré les sujets humains et historiques en France. Malgré une certaine réticence de chaque côté, des opportunités énormes restent pour faire des recherches trans-Manche à l’avenir.

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  • 1 Two publications emerged from Franco-British colloquia on human geography; and rural geographers ha (...)

1Only a narrow stretch of water separates England from France, and Paris and London are just over two and a half hours apart by Eurostar. However, few French geographers have undertaken fundamental research in the British Isles and few British geographers have made France their pays d’adoption for doctoral investigation. In recognition of the centenary of the Entente Cordiale (1904), this essay seeks to explore the research undertaken by French and British geographers who have worked ‘across the Channel’. Attention is focused predominantly on doctoral work, major books and clusters of research papers. Few individual articles are identified and no mention will be made of books prepared for use in secondary education or of articles written for undergraduates or for Chroniques. Nor will specific attention be drawn to the proceedings of Franco-British colloquia (where delegates almost exclusively present findings from their home country), to collaborative editorial projects, or to translations of general works into the other language.1

  • 2 British geographers who have written considerable numbers of articles about the geography of France (...)

2It is important to be aware of differing publication conventions in the two countries. British geographers rarely publish their doctoral theses in extenso but rather construct a series of scholarly articles from them; by contrast, doctorats d’état were almost always published in full. In recent years most doctorats nouveau régime have appeared as groups of articles rather than as single volumes. There are, of course, exceptions to these general statements; for example, the vitality of French university presses is enabling a growing number of doctorates to be published in book form. British doctoral theses are available for consultation in the library of the universities where they were defended. What follows, therefore, is a selective and personal appraisal of a century of geographical output; it makes no claim to be a comprehensive bibliography of French geographical writing about the British Isles or of British geographical output on France. 2

In the Beginning

3In the beginning was the word: and the word was Vidal. At the start of the 20th C the work of the Vidalians had tremendous influence on the small groups of geographers emerging in Britain, just as it energized their French counterparts. The influence of Halford Mackinder and Andrew John Herbertson at Oxford was highly important in the training of teachers and university lecturers. The ‘new geography’ of Vidal and his disciples became widely known in Britain and served as a model for the first half of the century since French was far more readily accessible to a British audience than the German geographical classics. Although written as a geographical introduction to France before the Revolution, Le Tableau de la Géographie de la France (1903) provided an inspiration for other scholars. Alongside its identification of cultural process and physical conditions that help forge national unity, it also highlighted the internal diversity of France in terms of provinces and pays. With that complexity set forth, the way was opened for the Vidalians and others to start preparing regional monographs as the essential part of their doctoral training. In addition, diplômes d’études supérieures (equivalent of masters dissertations in Britain) provided a means for investigating the pays of France, and the pages of the Annales de Géographie (founded in 1891 by Vidal and by Marcel Dubois) offered an important and accessible outlet. The Armand Colin publishing house would be instrumental in publishing many of the dissertations and other works of the Vidalians.

4In 1908 Vidal and Max Leclerc (managing director of Armand Colin) launched the idea of a multi-volume Géographie Universelle that would synthesize the totality of geographical knowledge of major parts of the world (Clout 2003a). Not surprisingly, the project was emphatically Eurocentric with many volumes to be devoted to component parts of Europe, whilst Asia, Africa, the Americas and Australasia would be discussed succinctly. Some authors, notably Raoul Blanchard, Emmanuel de Martonne and Albert Demangeon, started work on the project immediately and had prepared drafts before 1914. During the summer of 1910 Demangeon travelled by train through many parts of the British Isles. On some of these excursions he was accompanied by his friend Jacques Levainville who combined a career first in the army and then in iron mining, with the production of a substantial quantity of scholarly work (Clout & Gay 2003). Levainville’s son worked in Britain and helped arrange the excursions that took Demangeon to Scotland and Ireland (about which he published articles) and to much of England and Wales (Clout 2003b). Certainly he corresponded with geographers at Oxford and geologists in Edinburgh and made use of materials in the British Library.

5Although a draft of his Iles Britanniques was completed before the war broke out, publication would be delayed until 1927 when Demangeon inaugurated the Géographie Universelle with two volumes; the other dealt with Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. The 320-page volume on the British Isles began by discussing their essential insular and maritime characteristics but, thereafter, was emphatically regional in approach. Unconventionally, the initial pages of regional discussion focused on Ireland, before moving to Scotland. Wales and five regions of England; London was covered in a chapter of its own. Systematic discussion of the British fleet and imperial trade occupied the two final chapters. It is possible that Demangeon had intended to include a longer section on the Empire that instead served as the basis for a separate book that appeared after the Great War (Demangeon 1923). Demangeon’s papers, conserved in the Bibliothèque Mazarine in Paris, reveal that he was a voracious reader and abstractor of material in English and German as well as in French; numerous references cited in Les Iles Britanniques confirm this fact (Figure 1)(Clout 2003a). The book is copiously illustrated with excellent maps and photographs, with acknowledgements indicating that some plates were obtained from official or commercial sources, others were taken by academics with whom Demangeon was in contact (e.g. HJ Fleure, John McFarlane), and yet others originated from his own camera. This information confirms that he had travelled in East Anglia, the Home Counties, the South-West Peninsula and the Welsh Borderland, as well as in Scotland and Ireland.

6Les Iles Britanniques provided a work of geographical synthesis that British geographers had not yet achieved, although a collection of essays in regional geography written by a score of authors and edited by Alan Ogilvie would appear in 1928 to accompany the International Geographical Congress in Cambridge (Ogilvie 1928). Demangeon's text would be translated by ED Laborde and eventually be published in English in 1939. The young Jean Gottmann, Demangeon’s research assistant at the Sorbonne, helped revise the economic information that it contained (Clout & Hall 2003). Demangeon's strong statements in support of Irish Home Rule were replaced in the English-language version by less-opinionated narrative sections on recent Anglo-Irish relations. The book would go through several later revisions and remained in use in some schools and universities until the early 1960’s. There was, however, a formidable rival in the form of The British Isles compiled by L. Dudley Stamp and Stanley H. Beaver of the London School of Economics (Stamp & Beaver 1933). Three little-known doctoral theses had been prepared by French scholars on aspects of the British Isles. The first was by Désiré Pasquet and dealt with Londres et les Ouvriers de Londres (Pasquet 1913)(Figure 2). Demangeon reviewed the book warmly, for although the author was not a professional geographer he had already established his credentials by publishing two articles on London in the Annales de Géographie (1898,1899). In 1930 Yann Goblet completed a study of the changing political geography of 17th-century Ireland using the maps and reports of Sir William Petty (Goblet 1930). A year later Georges Lemaître submitted a thesis on the economic geography of the Weald (Lemaître 1931).

Across the Channel

7During the first three decades of the 20th century doctorates (DSc) in Britain were normally awarded on the basis of published work, rather than on the presentation of a thesis for examination (Clout 2003b). Hence British geographers had little opportunity to focus research on a sustained project such as the preparation of a French-style doctorate of 250-500 printed pages. Like their French counterparts, they lacked time and resources, with the number of academic geographers being very slight, the burden of teaching considerable, and the availability of funds for fieldwork effectively non-existent. Institutional circumstances in France were rather different, with the amount of hours that a professeur agrégé de lycée would teach each week being small thereby allowing time for research. In addition, a small privileged elite of academic geographers enjoyed light teaching or administrative duties at the Ecole Normale Supérieure, or held bursaries at the Fondation Thiers (both in Paris). Despite these institutional contrasts, important links between British and French geographers came into place in a variety of ways.

8A vital link between British and French geography was undoubtedly through Herbert John Fleure (1877-1969) who originated from Guernsey and was a fluent French speaker. He was in contact with the Vidalians early in the 20th century, published in the Annales de Géographie, and diffused his appreciation of French methodology and the geography of France to his students at Aberystwyth (where he was professor of geography and anthropology from 1917 to 1930) and subsequently at Manchester (where he held the chair of geography until 1944)(Fleure 1917). As the animateur of the Geographical Association (for schoolteachers but also for university lecturers), Fleure exercised an important role in the evolution of geography in British schools and universities. As early as 1916 he wrote a sympathetic article entitled ‘France - a regional interpretation’ comparing the civilization of France with the destruction being wrought by German occupiers (Fleure 1916). Two years later he published Human Geography in Western Europe, and during World War II would produce a small text entitled French Life and its Problems that, although lacking a single bibliographic reference ; revealed a close personal knowledge of the geography of France (Fleure 1918, 1943). This fascination for pays and régions naturelles, and for what might be learned about them from detailed analysis of topographic and geological maps, was imparted to his colleagues and students (including Emyr Estyn Evans, William B Fisher, Emrys Bowen and Walter Fogg) who continued the tradition in their own institutions (at Belfast, Durham, and Aberystywth respectively) and passed it down to the next generation. Thus Tom Jones-Hughes translated the ‘pays’ approach from Aberystwyth to his teaching and research at University College Dublin. Doubtless Fleure was influential in convincing Manchester University Press to publish – in French - La personnalité géographique de la France that was the initial section of the Tableau (Vidal de La Blache 1941). Fleure provided an appreciative preface.

9The second link between France and Britain involved the Scottish polymath Patrick Geddes. He greatly admired the work of the Vidalians and in 1924 established the Collège des Ecossais on the outskirts of Montpellier: and indeed settled there for a time (Clout & Stevenson 2004). The name originated from an earlier institution that had accommodated Scottish students near to the Sorbonne in Paris. At Montpellier, Geddes forged strong links with the geographer Jules Sion (a disciple of Vidal and close friend of Demangeon) and the botanist Charles Flahault whose vegetation surveys in southern France provided the inspiration for surveys later undertaken in Scotland (Flahault 1999). The Collège des Ecossais served as a regular field base for numerous geography students, not just from Scottish universities but also from other parts of the British Isles. Alan Ogilvie published an account of a ten-day inter-university excursion based at the Collège at Easter 1928 and involving students from eight British universities (Ogilvie 1928). The fieldtrip was organized by RN Rudmose Brown (1879-1957)(Sheffield), Patrick Geddes and local professors Flahault and Sion. Ogilvie had studied under Herbertson at Oxford but then spent a year at the Sorbonne, auditing lectures by Vidal, De Martonne, Demangeon and WM Davis (who was there as visiting professor). He also undertook library research on Morocco. After wartime service in the Balkans and a period of employment with the American Geographical Society of New York, in 1923 Ogilvie went to lecture in geography at Edinburgh. His teaching echoed the Vidalian approach and anchored the study of France into the geographical syllabus at Edinburgh.

10A further link between France and Scotland involved Arthur Geddes, the geographer son of Patrick Geddes, who prepared his doctorate on India under the supervision of Sion at Montpellier (Learmonth 1978, Stevenson 1978). Ironically. Sion had researched Upper Normandy for his doctorate and had never travelled further east than Greece but possessed a formidable reading knowledge of south and east Asia, and would make detailed use of the Census of India in two articles. He also wrote a highly acclaimed volume on Asie des Moussons for the Géographie Universelle without ever seeing the landscapes he described. In due course, Arthur Geddes would be appointed to a lectureship at Edinburgh where he would combine his interests in India with research on the Western Isles of Scotland; all imbued with the traditions of Sion and ultimately Vidal. Later publications by Swanzie Agnew on rural Languedoc and by James Houston on Mediterranean France also reflected the attachment of Edinburgh geographers to fieldwork based at Montpellier (Agnew 1946a,b, 1951, Houston 1964).

11French geography played a fundamental role in the School of Geography founded by Halford Mackinder at Oxford and continued by AJ Herbertson and HO Beckit. Demangeon corresponded with all three of them and spent one month in the company of Beckit on the great transcontinental excursion across the USA in 1912 (Clout 2004). (The other British participants were Ogilvie and George Goudie Chisholm). Two years earlier, Beckit had spent time in the Massif Central with Demangeon and other French geographers on the ‘pilgrimage’ from Ireland to Italy organized by WM Davis. The Oxford School of Geography ; established with financial support from the Royal Geographical Society, played a vital role in training an early generation of school teachers and university lecturers who attended courses of varying duration and earned certificates or diplomas in geography. Among the early converts were Alan Ogilvie, Charles Fawcett, Eva GR Taylor, Blanche Hosgood, Percy Maude Roxby, and JNL Myres (Clout 2003b). Each of them was exposed to the methods and approaches of

12French geography and would preach its virtues to their own universities (respectively, Edinburgh, University College London (UCL), Birkbeck College London, Bedford College London, Liverpool, and Oxford). With the exception of Myres who developed a career in ancient history but remained a supportive ally of geography at Oxford, these scholars would head their own departments and influence subsequent cohorts of students.

13Hilda Ormsby (née Rodwell Jones) (1877-1973) produced the most sustained work on France. She trained at the Ecole Normale de Melun, specializing in French and German, and then studied at the LSE to which Mackinder had been appointed director in 1903 (Harrison-Church 1981). Both she and her brother (Llewellyn Rodwell Jones) attended his Saturday lectures on geography. In 1912 she was appointed Demonstrator to assist Mackinder and six years later became a lecturer in geography and economics. Hilda Ormsby published her France: a regional and economic geography in the Methuen ‘Advanced Geography’ series (Ormsby 1931). This was submitted, together with her earlier book, London on the Thames, for the degree of DSc Econ (Ormsby 1924). The 500-page text on France was emphatically regional in composition with almost three-quarters of the volume being devoted to detailed descriptions of ten regions (the Central Massif; Armorica, the Paris Basin, North-East France, the Pyrenees, Aquitaine, the Alps, the Rhône-Saône corridor, the Mediterranean region (including Corsica), and Eastern France). A brief discussion of climatic conditions introduced the book and the final 100 pages examined the economic conditions (agriculture, industry, commerce) of the time. Ormsby drew on the abundant range of books and articles published by French geographers and listed an array of texts in English that had been written by economists and members of other disciplines. Not surprisingly, work by British geographers was conspicuous by its absence, with Ormsby listing only the 1916 article by Fleure. Despite lecturing on Europe at the LSE and reviewing the work of French geographers, she herself published only one article on France that dealt with the ‘influence’ (sic) of limestones on human geography (Ormsby 1932).

  • 3 Originally known as ‘William B Fish’, this author changed his name to ‘Fisher’ in the 1940s; his la (...)

14Ormsby’s France was undoubtedly a feat of compilation, presenting a wealth of factual detail in the fashion of the times. Enhanced with maps, but lacking photographs, its length and encyclopedic character probably defeated even the most willing of undergraduates in universities across the British Isles and the Empire. Nevertheless, it would be revised and reprinted several times, with the final versions in the 1950s containing up-dated economic information supplied by Frank J Monkhouse who would also adopt a rather similar encyclopedic approach in his own work on Western Europe. Hilda Ormsby was the ‘Europe’ expert at the LSE between the wars and prepared a companion text on the geography of Germany but the sole manuscript was destroyed in a bombing raid during World War II. Although not a fluent lecturer, she exercised a powerful influence on her students who included William R Mead (the future Scandinavian expert) and Ronald Harrison-Church, who would research at the Sorbonne in the late 1930s under Demangeon, Jacques Weulersse and Emmanuel de Martonne, before devoting much of his subsequent career to the geography of Africa. He did, however, write an important essay on the ‘French school of geography’ (Harrison-Church 1951). Another British geographer to study under Demangeon at that time was William B. Fish who acknowledged the influence of Fleure in guiding his early work.3 Fisher had the distinction of completing a doctorat de 1'université at the Sorbonne, with a dissertation on Les mouvements de population en Basse-Normandie, 1821-1936 (Fish 1940) (Figure 2). Fisher retained his interest in France throughout his career and continued to teach on the geography of Europe, however his main research focused on the Middle East. Walter Fogg, who had been trained at Manchester, also spent some time at the Sorbonne and developed his research specialism on the human geography of Morocco.

15A brief and quite digestible presentation on the geography of France came from Fleure's disciple, E Estyn Evans who, as a French-speaker, was greatly influenced by the writings of Vidal and of Jean Brunhes (Evans 1937). He had written a memoir on the Pyrenees and greatly enjoyed travelling through France (Evans 1930). His small textbook reflected his enthusiasm for archaeology and anthropology, offering a succinct digest of information that was easily assimilated and remains of interest almost seventy years after it first appeared. Fleure wrote the preface to the book, applauding that Evans "has learned to think from a French as well as from a British point of view and to love the sunny land about which he writes” (Evans 1937, viii). In fact, Evans did not undertake scholarly research on or in France, but the teaching and writing of Vidalian thinking, mediated through Fleure, informed his life-long work on Ireland and the Atlantic ends of Europe. His widow recalled that he was pleased to write newspaper articles on parts of the French countryside that they visited on holiday (Evans 1996).

16Demangeon's volume in the Géographie Universelle seems to have cornered the market for French university students during the 1930s and no doctoral research on Britain appears to have been undertaken. The visit by Henri Baulig to London in 1933 brought his ideas on ‘the changing sea level’ and the results of his work in the ‘Plateau Central’ to a British audience (Baulig 1935). By contrast with earlier times, the volume of British geographical publication on France would grow enormously during wartime, as the Admiralty launched its series of Naval Intelligence Handbooks that were researched and written at two centres: Oxford (directed by Kenneth Mason (1887-1976) and Cambridge (directed by James M Wordie (1889-1962) and subsequently by Henry Clifford Darby)(1909-92)(Gosme 2000, Clout & Gosme 2003). Like all British geographers between the wars, Darby had studied Vidal’s Tableau, having had to acquire sufficient French to read it and other French texts with ease (Clout 2005). Along with a team of geographers and other scholars, he produced a 1,630-page Handbook on France (appearing in four volumes in 1942), with an additional Handbook on Corsica (1942) being written almost entirely by his former student at Cambridge, Frank Monkhouse (1910-75). The Handbooks were most certainly not intended for taking into battle but provided an impressive array of scholarly and practical information to instruct officers prior to landing in foreign parts. A similar format was adopted for each and particular emphasis was placed on maps, diagrams and photographs to complement the text. The volumes on France totalling 1,620 pages dealt with: physical geography; history and administration; economic geography; and ports and communications. The team of writers included established experts (though not necessarily experts on France) such as Gordon Manley and Austin Miller (climate), Sidney Wooldridge (physiography), Stanley Beaver (transport and industry), Gerald Crone (urban development) and Hilda Ormsby (economic geography and waterways). Younger geographers also played an important role notably Frank Monkhouse (agriculture), Andrew O’Dell (coasts and harbours), and Fred Morgan (ports and population). As an historical geographer, Darby wrote on medieval France, and on the rise of French sea power and the economy prior to 1789. All the Handbooks were for ‘restricted’ use only until ten years after the war had ended, when remaining stock was put on sale. They represented a remarkable concentration of focused geographical energy and, of course, had no counterpart in occupied France.

17As soon as the war was over, Darby was appointed to the John Rankin Chair of Geography at Liverpool where he discovered a well-worn class set of Vidal's Tableau that had been used in seminars and map classes by his predecessor Percy Maude Roxby (1880-1947) who had studied under Herbertson at Oxford. Roxby also benefited from a travelling fellowship made available by the reclusive French banker, Albert Kahn, thereby kindling his life-long interest in the geography of China. Although not a ‘regional geographer’ by inclination, since this was not the tradition at Cambridge, Darby held the work of Vidal, of the French historian Lucien Febvre, and the monographs and articles of French geographers in great respect. He recognized the significant contribution that French scholars had made to the furtherance of historical geography and in due course would ensure that the geography of France was taught in departments that he headed at University College London and at Cambridge (Clout 2003c).

From Atlantic Fringe to Metropolis

18In the post-war years a number of French geographers undertook substantial research on the geography of the British Isles (Figures 1 and 2). The doctoral work of Albert Demangeon on La Picardie (1905) provided the essential starting point for Philippe Pinchemel (b. 1923). He focused on the geomorphology of the chalk plains of northern France and south-east England and thereby accomplished the kind of comparative work that Demangeon had wished to do before World War I (Clout 2003d,e). Under the direction of André Cholley at the Sorbonne, Pinchemel completed his thèse d'état in 1954 that incorporated extensive fieldwork on both sides of the Channel and his careful evaluation of the work of Sidney Wooldridge, David Linton and other British geomorphologists (Pinchemel 1954). Pinchemel attended professional meetings and field classes in Britain and established lasting friendships with geographers in the University of London. The late Eila Campbell of Birkbeck College once recalled how she enjoyed being in the field with experts from both sides of the Channel as they debated the characteristics and possible origins of landforms in the Home Counties. Pinchemel also published articles on urban planning and regional development in Great Britain, serving for a while on the Social Science Research Council. His spatial and thematic focus complemented work on the British Isles by the Breton geographer Pierre Flatrès. Pinchemel's textbooks on La Face de la Terre and on the systematic geography of France serve to reinforce his deep commitment to teaching students and promoting the discipline (Pinchemel 1969, 1987, 1988). The two former books were translated into English. His other major publications explore themes in urban geography and the evolution of geographical thought.

19Pierre Flatrès (1921-98), a Breton-speaker from Finistère, had studied at Quimper and Paris, before returning to Brittany to complete his degree and then serve as a lycée teacher and assistant to Professor André Meynier at the Faculté des Lettres at Rennes who supervised his research (Moreau 1988, Allain 1999). Flatrès’s investigations made full use of his Celtic origins and linguistic expertise, being devoted to the rural geography of ‘four Celtic countries’, notably Ireland, Wales, the Isle of Man and Cornwall (Flatrès 1957a). In the early 1950s he enjoyed a three-year bursary from the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique that enabled him to spend an extended period in the British Isles, examining documents in record offices and undertaking enquiries in the field. Adapting techniques that had been used for analyzing la structure agraire of Brittany by Meynier (and subsequently by himself), Flatrès interacted with geographers in Ireland (notably Estyn Evans and Tom Jones-Hughes) and in Wales (Emrys Bowen). In addition, he used his Breton as an entree to Irish and Welsh for detailed investigations in the field. Subsequent interactions in Lower Brittany conducted in Breton and Welsh by Flatrès, Glanville Jones, Ieuan Jones, Gwyn Meirion-Jones and others were a delight to hear (Flatrès 1979). Employing evidence from historic maps and charters, and analyzing place-names and relict features in the landscape, Flatrès succeeded in revealing earlier forms of spatial organization that pre-dated the hedge-lined enclosures (bocage) and dispersed farms of the second half of the 19th century (Smyth 1988). This complemented work on the interface of geography and archaeology being undertaken by Evans and his doctoral students at Queens University Belfast. As well as his 600-page doctorat d'état, Flatrès produced a thèse secondaire on the geomorphology of the Corràn peninsula (County Mayo) in the far western Gaeltacht, an array of articles on agrarian themes, and numerous notes and articles on current developments in the economic geography of Ireland and the British Isles in general (Flatrès 1957b). With his excellent English, he participated in professional meetings of British geographers during the 1950s and retained a life-long interest in British affairs, even though his subsequent writings focused on Brittany, northern France, the Atlantic fringe of Europe from Portugal to Norway, and rural studies worldwide. He was a wise counsellor on geographical matters on both sides of the Channel, and received British students and researchers with unfailing courtesy and support.

20André Guilcher (1913-93) originated from Brest in western Brittany and, like Flatrès, maintained a profound interest in the Atlantic world. He also developed a global reputation in marine geography and oceanography, authoring numerous texts and research papers, and supervising two dozen doctorates (Carré 1995). His own doctoral work under the direction of De Martonne, completed in 1948, was devoted to the geomorphology of southern Brittany but his interests expanded to many aspects of the physical geography of the British Isles, especially the landscapes of Scotland and Ireland. As a profound anglophile he travelled frequently across the Channel, undertaking physical geography fieldwork as well as enjoying holidays in many parts of the islands. He particularly like wearing Harris Tweed (before it became fashionable in France) and displayed a detailed scientific knowledge of British and Irish research in his books and annual digests of publications in marine geography for Norois. From his base at the

21Sorbonne (1957-69) and subsequently at the new university at Brest (1970) in his beloved Brittany, he exercised an important influence on doctoral students, steering some of them to work on British themes in physical and maritime geography. Being driven by him was a hair-raising experience, since he had a tendency to cope with roundabouts as the spirit moved rather than as the relevant code de la route required.

22In the early 1960s Guilcher collaborated with his Sorbonne colleague, Jacqueline Beaujeu-Garnier (1917-95), to write a 550-page text on Les Iles Britanniques (Beaujeu-Garnier & Guilcher 1963). Guilcher discussed physical geography (with assistance from Alain Godard on Scotland) and provided cartographic and photographic input on the ‘Atlantic fringe’, whereas Madame Beaujeu dealt with economic and social geography, and with regional issues. The two authors were both excellent English-speakers and were well known among British and Irish scholars but whereas Guilcher had undertaken fundamental field research, I suspect that his colleague's information came from extensive reading and field observation. The sources of the photographs in this advanced textbook confirm that both authors had travelled widely in the British Isles, with Madame Beaujeu favouring urban and industrial scenes, but certainly having visited many rural areas including the far north of Scotland. Her ability to distil and synthesize information on numerous geographical topics was remarkable, but I imagine that her main interest in Britain lay with its cities and benefited especially from friendships with Stanley Beaver, Arthur Smailes and other human geographers. (Beaver had a teaching commitment to France at the LSE and subsequently at the University of Keele, and was the essential link that enabled several textbooks by prominent French geographers to be translated and published in the Longman ‘Advanced Geography’ series). Smailes taught the geography of France in the University of London but did not publish on France.

23Two French geographers took advantage of their appointment to teach at the Lycée Français du Royaume-Uni in South Kensington to undertake fundamental doctoral research on Britain, just as the historian Francois Bédarida used a comparable post as a teacher of history to work on Victorian London. Claude Moindrot, who had taught at the University of Caen, devoted his research to agricultural activities in East Anglia being particularly interested in landownership structures and patterns of tenancy that enabled very large farms to operate. His thesis was not published in full, but following his return to France and his appointment at the Institute for Anglo-American Studies at the Université de Paris VII (Moindrot 1971). Moindrot wrote several textbooks on the British Isles and summarized the results of key pieces of British geographical research in the ‘Chronique britannique’ of Norois (Moindrot 1967). His successor, Claude Chaline, wrote his thesis on the geography of London as a metropolitan centre under the direction of Pierre George at the Sorbonne, who was also supervising research on other major cities (including Etienne Dalmasso on Milan, Anne-Marie Seronde-Babonaux on Rome)(Chaline 1971). Chaline established contacts with geographers at the LSE (for example, John Martin, whose doctorate was on the industrial structure of the capital). Chaline also published extensively on British regional planning, new towns, expanded towns, and related themes. His short book on Londres is remarkable for its historical insight and breadth of contemporary vision, while a number of other textbooks present aspects of the human geography of Britain to a student audience (Chaline 1968). On returning to France, Chaline held a Chair at the Institut d’Urbanisme de Paris (Université de Paris XII); his subsequent pattern of publication developed toward studies of urban planning in the Middle East and North America rather than in Britain. Nonetheless, he has continued to write and revise textbooks on the UK.

24In more recent years French geographers with interests in the British Isles have tended to focus on aspects of physical geography, perhaps because of a very real feeling that it is hard for a foreigner to compete with the sheer volume of contemporary research in British human geography. As a specialist on ancient massifs, Alain Godard presented his doctoral thesis on the geomorphology of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland and followed this with a suite of journal articles (Godard 1965). A quintet of important doctoral monographs were published in later years examining the geomorphology of Northern Ireland (Reffay 1973), Wales (Battiau-Queney, 1978), South-West England (Coque-Delhuile, 1986) and the Hebrides (Le Coeur, 1984), and on the effect of climatic conditions on economic activities in Ireland (Marchand 1985). By contrast, doctoral work on the British Isles by French human geographers has been less pronounced, however Francois Carré produced a doctorat d'état on Scottish fisheries (1988), and Brigitte Dumortier worked on agricultural regions in Ireland (Carré 1988, Dumortier 1980). Emmanuelle Sabot compared post-industrial changes in Saint-Etienne and lowland Scotland, and Gaëlle Chaigneau examined the impact of the Common Fisheries Policy of the EU on fishing communities on both sides of the Channel (Sabot 1996, Chaigneau 2000). Jacques Verrière and Dominique Creton both analyzed aspects of population change in Ireland, whilst Armel Coudé and Marie-Héléne Ruz investigated geomorphology in south-east Ireland and Christine Meur examined environmental issues along the coasts of northern Brittany and south-west England (Verrière 1979, Creton 1993, Coudé 1994, Ruz, 1986, Meur 1993). Jennifer Heurley continued the ‘Irish tradition’ with a doctorate on political divisions in Northern Ireland and subsequent work on Dublin and on Ireland as a whole (Heurley 2000, 2001, 2003). Claire Hancock produced a particularly memorable thesis on representations of London and Paris in 19th-century travel literature that has been abbreviated into a book (Hancock 1997, 2003). As early as 1957 Jean Sermet had noted that French geographers had produced “little” on the British Isles, since “the powerful team of British geographers has left little behind that may be gleaned” (Sermet 1957, p.206). Nonetheless, a number of doctorates are in preparation by young French geographers on an array of human, physical and environmental themes in the British Isles.

La France vue d'outre-manche

25Over the past half-century a range of British scholars committed themselves to researching the geography of France, with particular emphasis on human and historical themes (Figures 1 and 2). James Caird, a pupil of Alan Ogilvie and Arthur Geddes at Edinburgh, was a pioneer, earning a doctorat de l’université from Rennes in 1951 for a thesis on ‘Les îles celtiques de Bretagne et d'Ecosse’ (Caird 1951). Although never publishing on France, he taught on the geography of France when he moved to the University of Glasgow and exercised a profound influence on several generations of students (e.g. W. Iain Stevenson). James Bird earned a London doctorate for research on the Velay region of the Massif Central that gave rise to firm friendships with geographers at Clermont-Ferrand (Max Derruau, Pierre Estienne, André Fel) who would join him on cycling trips in his study area. Bird's later interests turned to port geography (London, the United Kingdom, and Australia) but his reading knowledge of French geographical work remained substantial (Bird 1953, 1954). A particularly interesting article introduced British geographers to Pierre Chardin de Teilhard's notion of the ‘noösphere’, the world of ideas and beliefs that affects human action (Bird 1963). This concept would later appear on an introductory page of Society and Milieu in the French Geographical Tradition published by Irish geographer Anne Buttimer during her sojourn in the USA (Buttimer 1971). This remarkable study that derived not only from intensive reading but also from interviews with French scholars - especially Jacqueline Beaujeu-Garnier, Paul Claval, Jean Gottmann, Pierre Gourou, and Philippe Pinchemel - played an important role in introducing anglo-american geographers to many personalities in the French geographical community and their works. Its central messages stand the test of time, although some points of detail might merit revision in the light of later work.

26Following his appointment to University College London in 1949, and his exposure to the syllabus of the federal University of London that included many papers on regional geography, Henry Clifford Darby determined that area studies would be taught ‘properly’ by experts with first-hand knowledge and linguistic expertise rather than by colleagues who presented digests from textbooks. Extensive reading and bibliographical support from French scholars (notably Etienne Juillard, Roland Marx and Jean-Marie Dupuy) who spent varying lengths of time at University College London (UCL) (Darby 2002, Clout 2003c, 2005) reinforced his own commitment to studies in historical geography. Arthur Smailes had followed the initiative of Robert E Dickinson in teaching the geography of France at UCL during the 1930s and 1940s, and continued to do so until his appointment at Queen Mary College in 1953. Robert Dickinson travelled in France and was impressed by the work and personality of Raoul Blanchard but he published little on France since Germany was his great specialism; Smailes never wrote about France (Dickinson 1934). Thereafter. Hugh Prince developed that teaching specialization at UCL and acquired a formidable reading knowledge of French geographical and historical monographs and journal articles, but he published little on France, preferring to work on England and the USA. Through lectures, seminars and map classes the historical and contemporary geography of France retained a memorable position in the undergraduate syllabus at UCL during the 1950s and 1960s, with a course on either France or Germany then being a compulsory part of the federal University of London syllabus and the historical geography of France being an option. In fact, the only London geographer actively researching France during the 1960s was John Martin, the economic geographer at the LSE who explored the steel industry of Lorraine (Martin 1957). Despite continuing close friendships with members of the French geographical community and teaching on France, Ronald Harrison-Church focused his publications on the African continent.

27Prior to his departure from University College London to the Chair of Geography at Cambridge in 1966, HC Darby appointed one of his former doctoral students, Alan RH Baker to develop teaching in biogeography and the geography of France as well as furthering his research in medieval historical geography. In the late 1960s several of Darby's former students at UCL had embarked on work on the historical geography of 19th-century France, with Keith Sutton investigating geographical change in the Sologne, and Hugh Clout studying agricultural specialization in the Pays de Bray (Sutton 1969, 1971, Clout 1969). While writing his doctorate on 19th-century England, Anthony Phillips also undertook comparative work on the impact of underdraining and other agricultural ‘improvements’ in France (Phillips & Clout 1970). Sutton retained a teaching interest in France while lecturing at the University of Manchester but refocused his research on North Africa and South-East Asia, and Phillips concentrated on the intricacies of English historical geography. A little later, another former University College London student, Roger Kain, developed research expertise in urban conservation policy in France and in French historical cartography, although his doctoral work dealt with 19th-century England (Kain 1982, Kain & Baigent 1992).

28By contrast with these colleagues, Hugh Clout kept the geography of France in tighter focus, researching on both contemporary and historical themes, and offering courses on both at UCL. His continuing concern with economic and social issues, and especially the rural geography of the Massif Central, has been paralleled by research into a number of historical topics (for example, Clout 1971). An edited volume, covering themes in the historical geography of France, incorporated chapters by Pierre Bonnaud, André Fel and Pierre Flatrès (Clout 1977). Detailed studies of agricultural specialization in Normandy were followed by sample surveys of rural change in Brittany, Gascony and the Auvergne, and then a detailed exploration of agricultural conditions across France on the eve of the railway age using the statistique générale of 1837-40 (Clout 1980). Successive cadastral surveys and statistiques agricoles provided a framework for reviewing the variable geometry of changing land use and food production from 1815 to 1914 that yielded a doctorat de 1'université from the Sorbonne (Clout, 1983, 1985). These quasi-positivistic explorations were followed by use of a mixture of qualitative and quantitative sources from national and departmental archives to trace the process of rural reconstruction after the Great War (Clout 1996). Further projects involved analyzing the recovery of urban France after World War II and tracing the transmission of geographical knowledge through social networks encompassing the Vidalians (Demangeon, Gallois, Sion) and one of their leading disciples, Jean Gottmann (Clout 2003e). Doctoral studies at University College London by W Iain Stevenson on the impact of phylloxera on the vineyards of Languedoc, and by Penelope Woolf on the building of Garnier’s Opera House in Paris are notable additions to work on the historical geography of France, although both researchers subsequently left university life to develop careers in academic publishing (Stevenson 1980, 1981, Woolf 1986, 1988). Another brand of historical geography was represented by Gwyn Meirion-Jones’s remarkable study of vernacular housing in Brittany that was based on intensive fieldwork in many rural settlements (Meirion-Jones 1978, 1982). It contained numerous detailed drawings of individual houses, and was supervised at Kings College London by EM Yates. Meirion-Jones’ subsequent research on rural housing has evolved on the borderland of archaeology and history. Tamsin Cooper's doctorate on rural decision making in the Languedoc region is the latest in the series of UCL doctorates researched in France (Cooper 2003).

29Frank Monkhouse, Darby’s protégé at Cambridge, Liverpool and then Southampton (where he was professor), drew on his extensive reading and travel to produce A Regional Geography of Western Europe in the ‘Geographies for Advanced Study’ series for the Longman publishing house (Monkhouse 1959). This voluminous and exhausting textbook presented an intricate description of the main regions and pays of France, together with complementary information on Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. An experienced mountain climber and caver, Monkhouse noted: “I have indeed been fortunate in visiting most parts of Western Europe ... I have stood on top of Mont Blanc and at the bottom of one of the deepest … collieries, I have walked … across the mistral-swept Rhone delta, and for several summers I have towed my caravan across Europe, halting where we pleased” (Monkhouse 1959, xix). Monkhouse structured his book according to major physical regions and did not explore thematic issues such as climate, agriculture or industry. His younger colleague at Southampton, Ian Thompson, adopted a very different approach in his book on France. While having written his doctorate on a North American theme and later publishing on Algeria, he devoted much of his career to promoting the geography of France. His textbook, Modem France: a social and economic geography was almost equally divided between thematic discussion (including population, urban development, energy, manufacturing) and regional essays that examined the current human geography of each of the official planning regions (Thompson 1970). Following his appointment to the Chair of Geography at Glasgow, Thompson delivered specialized courses on the geography of France for many years, revitalizing the more traditional approach of James Caird who had moved to Dundee. Thompson's later publications dealt with Corsica, the Paris region and the Mediterranean South, tourism, transport, and a range of heritage issues in Alpine and western France (Thompson 1971).

30Regional geography continued to occupy an important place in the School of Geography at Oxford during the third quarter of the 20th century, with the geography of France arguably holding pride of place. James Houston, who had studied under Alan Ogilvie at Edinburgh, incorporated a discussion of le Midi in his vast study of the Western Mediterranean World (Houston 1964). The arrival of Jean Gottmann as Professor at Oxford in 1968 strengthened connections with both French and American geographers (Clout & Hall 2003). Gottmann supervised doctoral work on an array of French themes, including Philip Ogden's work on the changing rural economy and demography of the Ardèche, and Eleonor Kofman's study of the cultural geography of Alsace and the Cévennes (Ogden 1975, Kofman 1976). Both scholars went on to develop substantial portfolios of research on French themes, with Ogden concentrating on a range of issues related lo internal migration and immigration to France, and movement from the French Antilles to metropolitan France. His own doctoral students at Queen Mary College produced theses on population and immigration (e.g. Condon 1987). Kofman published important insights into the troubled political geography of Corsica, before analyzing the work of Henri Lefebvre (Kofman 1981, 1982, Kofman & Lebas 1996). Paul White also trained at Oxford and has written on numerous aspects of the social geography of France, completing a major book on Paris with Daniel Noin of Paris I (White 1981, Noin & White 1997). From his base at Sheffield University, White has supervised a number of doctoral theses on population and social change in French cities (Jones 1982, Sporton 1990, Carpenter 1994, Graham 1997, Jouan de Kervenoael 2000, Scott 2003).

31The arrival of John House in 1974, himself a former Oxford student, further strengthened the French connection in the School of Geography at Oxford. Drawing on his wartime experience and research undertaken while holding a Leverhulme Fellowship, House published on rural management and political geography in France (House 1954, 1959). His teaching at Oxford emphasized his commitment to real-world problems and led to the publication of his detailed text entitled France: an applied geography (House 1978). This volume was dedicated to his friend Jean Labasse of the University of Lyons. Under House’s supervision further doctoral theses were completed on French themes, including population mobility in the Isère département and on the social geography of Marseille (Winchester 1980, Jones 1981). In due course, Hilary Winchester would produce a thematic textbook on France for undergraduate use (Winchester 1993). Following the retirement of Jean Gottmann in 1983 and the death of House one year later, the teaching of France at Oxford was continued by Ian Scargill who wrote on urban and regional policy, as well as producing an account of the Dordogne region for general readers that reflected his summer residence in that region over many years (Scargill 1963, 1974, 1983). He subsequently wrote many articles on urban and regional policy themes, and supervised doctoral research by Richard Gibb on the trans-national frontier region of northern France and south-eastern England, however Gibb's later writings have been on southern Africa (Gibb 1986). From his short-term base at the School of Geography in Oxford, David Harvey memorably enriched the geographical literature on 19th-century Paris (Harvey 1979, 1985, 2003). In recent years, Adrian Passmore has compared post-war planning and the discourse of reconstruction at Caen and Plymouth (Passmore 1995).

32After having left University College London, Alan Baker further developed the historical geography of France at Cambridge, building of a tradition of teaching by Clifford T Smith and by HC Darby, and of research by EA (‘Tony’) Wrigley (Smith 1967, Wrigley 1961). Baker's own research focused on a range of methodological issues and provided an in-depth analysis of the changing socio-economic geography of the département of Loir-et-Cher during the 19th century. His résidence secondaire near Blois provided an essential base for many summers spent working in the local archives départementales, that yielded an important series of case studies and a major monograph entitled Fraternity among the French Peasantry (Baker 1999). Among Baker's many doctoral students, Mark Cleary investigated agricultural syndicates in Aveyron and elsewhere and produced a monograph on Peasants, politicians and producers before reorientating much of his research to southeast Asian themes (Cleary 1982, 1989). Michael J Heffernan examined the politics of literacy in 19th-century provincial France for his doctorate, before broadening his research into political geography, the French colonization of Algeria, the activities of French geographical societies in the encouragement of imperial expansion, and the role of French geographers in reshaping the world map after 1918 (Heffernan 1986, 1994). Other Cambridge doctorates on the historical geography of France have focused on the commercial and social structure of Nantes, public hygiene in Rouen, and rural tramways in the Loire valley (Fahy 1989, Jones 1992, Turner, 1998).


33During the 20th century, many French and British scholars have crossed the Channel in order to deepen their geographical knowledge of their ‘nearest neighbour’, usually by running excursions or organizing detailed fieldwork for undergraduates. In addition, very enjoyable Franco-British symposia have been held among rural geographers and among historical geographers, however such occasions almost exclusively involved scholars reporting research in their own home countries rather than presenting results from their own investigations across the Channel. Indeed, relatively few geographers undertook major pieces of research on ‘the other side of the water’ with numbers peaking in the 1970s and 1980s (Figure 1). The work that has been undertaken displays important variations in terms of spatial and thematic emphasis. Ireland appears to have exercised particular attraction for French geographers – perhaps due to the influence of Pierre Flatrès, the ‘manageability’ of the island, and the welcome extended by Irish geographers. By contrast, much of England appears to have been untouched by French research (Figure 2). British geographers have investigated many different parts of France, their destinations reflecting a combination of personal interests and contacts already held in potential ‘host’ universities by their supervisors. Nonetheless, the southwest appears remarkably understudied and little research has been completed in the urbanized north.

34The physical geography of the British Isles has held great fascination for French geographers but, by contrast, British geographers have written precious little about the physical geography of France. The doctoral research by Alwyn Scarth on the volcanic geomorphology of the Puy-de-Dôme is a notable exception, with brief geomorphological studies around Dieppe and in the Boulonnais being undertaken by Bruce Sparks and Alice Coleman respectively (Scarth 1962, Sparks 1953, Coleman & Ferrar 1954). Edward Watson translated Jean Tricart’s text on the Geomorphology of Cold Environments and had many contacts with French physical geographers (also being a membre d'honneur of the Société de Géographie de Paris)(Tricart 1970). Tricart’s ideas influenced subsequent periglacial work by Edward and Sybil Watson on the physical geography of Wales. By contrast, British geographers, especially those trained at Cambridge, Oxford, Sheffield and University College London, have investigated numerous aspects of the contemporary human geography and the historical geography of France, making substantial use of documentary materials in national and local archives. With the exception of work by Pierre Flatrès and recently by Claire Hancock, French geographers have made few entries into the historical geography of the British Isles.

35Work undertaken in France by British geographers based beyond ‘the golden triangle’ of Cambridge, Oxford and London (plus Sheffield) includes studies of internal migration by Tony Fielding at Sussex (but previously at the LSE), agricultural change in Brittany by Eric Naylor at Aberdeen (who holds a doctorat de 3e cycle from Rennes), viticulture and rural planning in the Languedoc by Alun Jones of Leicester, rural communities in the French Alps by David Siddle at Liverpool, and demographic changes in Brittany by Kenneth Dean at Plymouth (Fielding 1965, 1966, Naylor 1979, Jones 1986, Siddle 1987, 1988, Dean 1987). Using archival sources based in Britain, Mandy Morris produced an interesting study of the ‘garden’ landscapes of the first world war cemeteries of northern France (Morris 1997). John Aitchison’s interest in agricultural geography and rural planning in Wales and France has flourished in collaboration with consultant Jean-Claude Bontron. He has authored many consultancy reports on these themes rather than papers in scholarly journals. David Harvey's influential study of the building and symbolism of the Sacré-Coeur, and his subsequent books analyzing the ‘Haussmanisation’ of Paris must not be overlooked (Harvey 1979, 1985, 2003). Three British geographers successfully integrated themselves into the French ‘academic system’ with John Tuppen, whose doctoral research was on the Lower Seine valley, now holding a Chair at the Université Joseph Fournier (Grenoble), Henry Buller, whose post-doctoral research has covered rural themes in both France and Britain, occupying a teaching post at the Université de Paris VII (before returning to a Chair at Exeter), and Stephanie Condon holding a senior research position at the Institut National d'Etudes Démographiques (Tuppen 1974, 1980, 1983, 1988, 1991, Buller & Hoggart 1994).

  • 4 It must be appreciated that many British journals do have a high rejection rate; many submissions b (...)

36In the early years of the new millennium I would like to be optimistic about the future of cross-Channel work, and there is indeed evidence of a freer flow of ideas and evidence made possible, for example, by electronic communication and data storage. However, there are worrying signs in both the French and British geographical communities. While younger French scholars feel compelled to read geographical work in ‘anglo-saxon’ periodicals and become aware of the latest academic output from the USA and the UK, they have not been attracted to undertake doctoral work in the British Isles. Nor have they felt encouraged to publish work in British periodicals, being discouraged by editorial policy to accept only high quality work that is expressed in current English of the highest standard4. Most of their British counterparts are increasingly satisfied to familiarize themselves only with what originates in the various geographical ‘schools’ of the Anglo-American realm, and limit their research to English-speaking sections of the world. To tackle a book or even a geographical article in French is becoming impossibility for younger scholars as training in foreign languages plummets in British secondary schools and impoverished university libraries cancel subscriptions to periodicals that are not published in English. Some would agree that the methodological attack launched on area studies by the ‘new geographers’ of the 1960s might well have caused irreparable damage in British academic geography (Clout 2003b). Whatever the reason, the degree of interest in France that young British geographers used to express is no longer to be found. The problem is, of course, more severe than that since British geography seems to be looking in on itself, with frequent glances across the Atlantic. Could it be that over one hundred years of the geographical ‘entente cordiale’ – expressed through active research and publication on the other country across the Channel - is grinding to a regrettable halt, even though the Eurostar journey between the two capital cities is faster than ever? Certainly it survives at an institutional level, with numerous bi-lateral relationships between French and British scholars being in existence, and four British scholars recently being made membres d'honneur of the Société de Géographie de Paris - but three of them have retired and the other is approaching that stage of his career (Alan Baker, Hugh Clout, Ian Thompson, and the urban historian Tony Sutcliffe). It is now the responsibility of subsequent generations to renew such professional links across the Channel. An encouraging sign that progress is underway is to be found in the publication of Discours scientifiques et contexts culturels. Géographies françaises et britanniques à l’épreuve postmoderne (Chivallon, Ragouet & Samers 1999) and the appearance of a suite of papers dealing with the impact of the Carribean diaspora in Britain by Christine Chivallon (2002, 2002, 2003) at Bordeaux, and on aspects of immigration and identity in France by Michael Samers (1998, 2003a, b) at Nottingham. I genuinely invite readers to inform me of substantial research and publication - completed or in progress – by French scholars on the geography of the British Isles and by their British counterparts on the geography of France. It would be good to be able to end my discussion on a much more positive and promising note.

Figure 1. A time line of geographical work undertaken between 1910 and 2005 in the British Isles by French scholars, and in France by British scholars. British geographers continuing to write about France after their doctoral theses are indicated by an arrow.

Figure 1. A time line of geographical work undertaken between 1910 and 2005 in the British Isles by French scholars, and in France by British scholars. British geographers continuing to write about France after their doctoral theses are indicated by an arrow.

Figure 2. A map showing areas studied in France by British geographers, and in the British Isles by French geographers. Scholars writing on the countries as a whole are indicated in consolidated lists.

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1 Two publications emerged from Franco-British colloquia on human geography; and rural geographers have been especially active in holding thematic meetings and publishing their proceedings (Caen, Exeter, Nantes, Kingston/Worcester). A good example of collaborative editing involves the first four issues of Geographers: Biobibliographical Studies (1977-80), edited jointly by Philippe Pinchemel and T.W. Freeman. Pinchemel was also instrumental in having Peter Haggett’s early book appear in translation: L’analyse spatiale en géographie humaine (Armand Colin, 1973). A rare example of cross-Channel appraisal is provided by Paul Claval (1986)

2 British geographers who have written considerable numbers of articles about the geography of France include: Alan Baker, Henry Buller, Hugh Clout, Mike Heffernan, Roger Kain, Philip Ogden, Ian Scargill, Ian Thompson, John Tuppen, Philip White. It is the objective of this article to give a pointer to their work rather to provide a full list.

3 Originally known as ‘William B Fish’, this author changed his name to ‘Fisher’ in the 1940s; his later works appear in this form.

4 It must be appreciated that many British journals do have a high rejection rate; many submissions by UK authors are also rejected, not just those of ‘non-native’ users of English! There is really no British equivalent of the ‘regional’ journals operating out of groups of French universities beyond Paris. Rather than being discouraged by the apparently harsh reaction of British editors, French scholars should cultivate friendships with their immediate British counterparts, many of whom would be happy to ‘polish’ promising articles for publication in British journals. However, this exhortation moves beyond the examination of France by British geographers and of Britain by French geographers that is the focus of my article.

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Table des illustrations

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Titre Figure 1. A time line of geographical work undertaken between 1910 and 2005 in the British Isles by French scholars, and in France by British scholars. British geographers continuing to write about France after their doctoral theses are indicated by an arrow.
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Hugh Clout, « Cross-Channel Geographers: a century of activity. », Cybergeo : European Journal of Geography [En ligne], Epistémologie, Histoire de la Géographie, Didactique, document 330, mis en ligne le 06 décembre 2005, consulté le 19 juin 2019. URL : ; DOI : 10.4000/cybergeo.2966

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