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WILLIAM GEORGE HOSKINS (1908 – 1992) was born in Exeter, the son of a baker. He won a scholarship to Hele’s School and later studied at the University of Exeter. In 1931 he became a lecturer at the University of Leicester, where he founded the Department of English Local History in 1948, which went on to pioneer the study of people in their local landscapes. In 1951 he was appointed as Reader in Economic History at Oxford University. He was made a Fellow of the British Academy in 1969 and became a CBE in 1971. He wrote and edited many books, including The Midland Peasant, Local History in England, and Two Thousand Years in Exeter. In 1972 he made a television series for the BBC, based on his best-selling The Making of the English Landscape. He was president of the Dartmoor Preservation Association and was elected onto the City Council to help preserve the historic fabric of the city.

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