Denis Edmund Cosgrove, born in Liverpool on 3rd May 1948, was a highly distinguished cultural geographer, who held professorships at Royal Holloway, University of London and the University of California.
He was the second eldest of six children born to Peter and Gwendoline Cosgrove. His father was a bank clerk and a devout Roman Catholic. Denis attended St Francis Xavier’s College, as had his father. Bizarrely, the school told his parents that geography was a ‘girls’ subject’ and that if he was to stay in the A-stream he had to drop it in favour of Latin or Greek. Fortunately, his passion for the subject was not dimmed by the school’s short-sightedness, and he won an open scholarship to read geography at St Catherine’s College, Oxford. After graduation he completed an MA at the University of Toronto before returning to Oxford to do a doctorate. Earning his living as a lecturer at Oxford Polytechnic he submitted a thesis on Venetian landscape for a Bachelor of Letters degree. The examiner, considering it an outstanding piece of work, insisted it be resubmitted for a Doctor of Philosophy degree.
He moved on to Loughborough University in 1998, Royal Holloway in 1994, and in 2000 was appointed Alexander von Humboldt Professor of Geography at the University of California. He was named Getty Distinguished Scholar for 2008-09. In 1988 he was awarded the prestigious Back Award by the Royal Geographical Society, and an honorary doctorate from Tallinn University in 2008.
Cosgrove's research interests evolved from a focus on the meanings of landscape in human and cultural geography, especially in Western Europe since the 15th century, to a broader concern with the role of spatial images and representations in the making and communicating of knowledge. His research made a major contribution to the development of geography of media and communication.
He was diagnosed with stomach cancer in 2006 and died in Los Angeles on 21 March 2008 aged just 59. He was survived by his first wife Isabel, his second wife Carmen and a son and two daughters.
At the time of his birth the Cosgrove family home was at 16 Kenilworth Road L16. They later moved to 10 Hallville Road L18.
The Cosgrove home in the late 1940's and early 1950s.
The Cosgrove family home c.1970.
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