Professor Robin Butlin


Robin Butlin is Emeritus Professor of Geography and Visiting Research Fellow in the School of Geography. His main research interest is in historical geography. His undergraduate and postgraduate studies were in Geography at the University of Liverpool (1957 - 1961), followed by appointments at the University College of North Staffordshire (which became the University of Keele),1961-2, University College,Dublin  (1962-71), Queen Mary College, London (1972-1979), Loughborough University (1979 - 1995), University College of Ripon and York St John (1995-1998); University of Leeds  1999-2004, emeritus professor and visiting research Fellow (2004-present).

)Current research fields are historical geographies of European Imperialism; the history of geographical thought and institutions in Britain; and the maps and landscape drawings in the Geographical Handbooks produced by N.I.D. 5 during the Second World War.


Robin A Butlin (2019) (in Press) with A R H Baker and I S Black 130 years of Historical Geography at Cambridge 1888-2018, Historical Geography Research Group, RGS-IBG, London, Research Series No. 47, 176 pp.

Robin A Butlin (2019) Barron Sir Donald James 1921-2015', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography,

Robin A Butlin (2018) 'June Alice Sheppard (1928-2016)', Geographers Biobibliographical Studies, 37, 155-178.

Robin A. Butlin (2017 'The Leeds and Yorkshire Geographical Society c. 1902- 1917', Northern History, LIV:1, 2017, 94-112.

Robin A. Butlin (2017) 'June Alice Sheppard, (1928-2016)', Journal of Historical Geography, 57,100-104.

Robin A. Butlin (2016) 'Geology and the Development of Academic Geography in Yorkshire in the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Century' in R. Myerscough and V. Wallace (eds) Famous Geologists of Yorkshire, PLACE, York, 6-20

 Robin A. Butlin  (2015) The Origins and Development of Geography at the University of Leeds, c. 1874-2015, University of Leeds, 212 pp. With a Postscript by A. Evans.

Robin A. Butlin (2014)‘Richard Lawton (1925–2010)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Oxford Biography Index Number 101104633.

Robin A. Butlin (2013) The Historical Geography Research Group: A History, Historical Geography Research Series Number 44, RGS-IBG London,  with a postscript by C. Griffin, H. Lorimer, and N. Thomas. 109 pp.

Robin A. Butlin (2012), Reflections on the origins and early development of a special research group: the Historical Geography Research Group of the Institute of British Geographers/Royal Geographical Society, c. 1960-2000, in Book of Abstracts, XV Conference of Historical Geographers (Prague), 130.

Robin A. Butlin (2010), Reflections, in J. Langton and G. Jones (eds), Forests and Chases of Medieval England and Wales, St John’s College, Oxford, 155-158.

Robin A. Butlin (2009), Geographies of Empire: European imperialism and colonialism c. 1880-1960, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 673pp;

Robin A. Butlin (2009), Historical geographies of knowledge and education, in Kitchen, R. and Thrift  N. (eds), International Encyclopedia of Human Geography, Vol 1,  15-24.

Robin A. Butlin (2009), H. C. Darby, in Kitchen, R. and Thrift  N. (eds), International Encyclopedia of Human Geography, Vol. 3, 1-3.

Robin A. Butlin (2009), J. S. Keltie, the Royal Geographical Society, and discourses of imperialism c. 1880-1927, in A. Kinda et al. (eds) Proceedings of the 14th International Conference of Historical Geographers, Kyoto, Kyoto University Press 171-2. 

Robin A. Butlin (2010), Response to review No 851 – of Geographies of Empire – by Michael Collins,  Reviews in History, August.

Robin A. Butlin (2008), Images of North Yorkshire Landscapes c.1600-2000, in M. A. Atherden and T. Milsom (eds.), Yorkshire Landscapes Past and Present, York: PLACE, 1-10.

Research interests

Current research fields:

  • Historical Geography;
  • history of Geography in the University of Leeds;
  • history of historical geography in Cambridge c. 1903-2003;
  • Historical geography in Britain in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries;
  • Geographical illustrations in the Admiralty Naval Intelligence Division Handbooks c. 1945-1948.
  • Geographies of Empire, including geographical societies.

Earlier interests and publications included: The historical geography of rural North-East England, Urban Ireland, The Holy Land, and production of a Historical Atlas of North Yorkshire.

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • 1959, BA (Hons) in Geography, University of Liverpool
  • 1961, MA (Research) for thesis on historical geography of rural northumberland
  • 1987, D.Litt, Loughborough University, for research in Historical Geography
  • 1999, Awarded the Victoria Medal of the Royal Geographical Society for research
  • 2004, Appointed OBE for services to Geography

Professional memberships

  • Fellow, Royal Geographical Society with the Institute of British Geographers
  • The Geographical Association
  • The Palestine Exploration Fund
  • The Geographical Society of Ireland
  • The Royal Scottish Geographical Society
  • The British Economic History Society