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Department of Geography


Professor Robert Mayhew MA (Oxon), D.Phil (Oxon), PhD (Cantab)

Honorary Professor of Historical Geography and Intellectual History, Senior Tutor and Fellow at Pembroke College

British Historical Geography and Intellectual History, 1660-1900



  • 2022-present: Honorary Professor of Historical Geography and Intellectual History, University of Cambridge
  • 2021-present: Senior Tutor and Fellow, Pembroke College, Cambridge
  • 2005-2021: Reader then Professor of Historical Geography, University of Bristol
  • 1999-2005: Lecturer in Human Geography, University of Wales, Aberystwyth
  • 1996-1999: British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge and Department of Geography, Cambridge


  • 1996: PhD (by incorporation), University of Cambridge
  • 1996: D.Phil, University of Oxford
  • 1992: BA, University of Oxford


  • 1996-1999: British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship
  • 2007: Philip Leverhulme Fellowship
  • 2011: Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London
  • 2011-12: British Academy Senior Research Fellowship
  • 2020-2021: Leverhulme Trust Major Research Fellowship
  • 2021: Fellow of the British Academy


My main areas of research interest to date have been threefold.

1) I am interested in the ways in which landscape was represented in English literature. I have sought to show the extent to which landscape was a theological category in eighteenth-century thought. This work has led me to write about a range of canonical authors in the “long” eighteenth century including Addison, Pope, Fielding, Gilpin and Radcliffe. My main focus, however, has been on the work of Samuel Johnson, and this resulted in a monograph with Palgrave, Landscape, Literature and English Religious Culture, 1660-1800 (2004).

2) My interest in the eighteenth century led me to a concern with the history of geography in early modern England. I have concentrated on seventeenth- and eighteenth-century British geographical writings for the most part, with some excursions into the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries, this range being fully exemplified in a monograph on the topic, Enlightenment Geography (2000).

3) I have spent the past decade working on the intellectual history of Thomas Robert Malthus and the reception of Malthusianism from 1798 to the present day. This resulted in a major monograph for Harvard University Press, Malthus: The Life and Legacies of an Untimely Prophet (2014). I have also edited Malthus’s selected writings for Penguin Classics and curated a set of essays to mark the 250th anniversary of his birth for Cambridge University Press, New Perspectives on Malthus (2016).

My current research is on the intellectual history of British attitudes to migration with a particular focus on the debates of the 1790s.


  • Robert J. Mayhew, (ed), Debating Malthus: A Documentary Reader on Population, Resources and the Environment. Seattle, Wa.: University of Washington Press, 2022.
  • Robert J. Mayhew and Charles W.J. Withers (eds) Geographies of Knowledge: Science, Scale, and Spatiality in the Nineteenth Century. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2020
  • Robert J. Mayhew (ed) New Perspectives on Malthus: 250th Anniversary Essays. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016
  • Robert J. Mayhew, Malthus: The Life and Legacies of an Untimely Prophet. Harvard University Press: Cambridge, Ma. and London, 2014
  • Elizabeth Baigent and Robert J. Mayhew, eds. English Geographies, 1600-1950: Historical Essays on English Customs, Cultures and Communities in Honour of Jack Langton. St John’s College Research Centre Press, Oxford/Oxbow Books, 2009
  • Robert J. Mayhew, Landscape, Literature and English Religious Culture, 1660-1800: Samuel Johnson and Languages of Natural Description. Palgrave: London and New York 2004
  • Robert J. Mayhew, Enlightenment Geography: The Political Languages of British Geography, c.1650-1850. Macmillan: London, & St Martin’s, New York 2000


Year 1: Geography’s Shapes: Pasts, Patterns, Prospects