Poets and topographers

Last night I was reading, well browsing, W.G. Hoskins’ ‘The Making of the English Landscape’ (1955), in the pub and came across his definition of the Walla Brook on Dartmoor as “the stream of the Welsh or Britons” deriving from the original Weala Broc.

A month ago on this blog I quoted a very similar definition from Peter Ackroyd’s ‘London‘ (p.33) but in the context of relating to the Walbrook stream in London, “brook of the Welsh” deriving from the same Weala Broc.

Not sure what I’m saying about this to be perfectly honest – the similarity just struck me.

‘The Making of the English Landscape’ is a book I’ve been meaning to read for a while now – before I really immersed myself in psychogeographical material I saw Hoskins book as a potentially key text that would compliment the topographical books such as Gordon S. Maxwell’s Fringe of London, and films such as Patrick Keiller’s London and Andrew Kotting’s Gallivant.

The book opens, “Despite the multitude of books about English landscape and scenery, and the flood of topographical books in general, there is not one that deals with the historical evolution of the landscape as we know it.”

And so far Hoskins doesn’t disappoint, even declaring that “poets make the best topographers”.
Peter Ackroyd began his literary career as a poet, so again I suppose the two books reinforce each other.