Dr June Sheppard (1928-2016)

Older members of the HGRG in particular will be saddened by the news of the death on November 11th 2016 of Dr June Sheppard, a dedicated founder member of the HGRG, the first woman member of its committee, and its Honorary Treasurer from 1967 to 1970.

June’s work for the HGRG as it became was of great value at a time when the setting up of an operable financial basis was crucial for the development of a nascent research group, as was her skill in dealing with members and with the financial modus operandi of its parent body the Institute of British Geographers. Her reports to the HGRG, some of them handwritten, make very informative reading, and are in the HGRG archive.

June had a rich and fulfilled academic career, which will be fully documented and evaluated elsewhere in the geographical literature. A graduate and M. A. research postgraduate of the University of Hull, and with a PhD from the University of London, she spent most of her active working professional life from 1953 to 1991 in the Geography department at Queen Mary College in the University of London, having been appointed as Reader in Geography in 1972.

June was a first class researcher, her early work in historical geography being on land drainage in the Hull Valley of East Yorkshire, and the medieval meres of Holderness, followed by extensive work on the historical geography of rural settlement and economy in Yorkshire, exemplified perhaps by her classic paper of 1966 on Wheldrake in the Vale of York (Geografisker Annaler, 48 Series B 1966, 59-77. June also published on Herefordshire, and on modern rural population changes in New South Wales, Australia, where she had spent time on research leave. Active in research in retirement in Sussex, she published papers on rural and urban populations in nineteenth-century Sussex in national and local academic journals. Her work has stood the test of time, with recognition in current and forthcoming research publications.

June was an outstanding teacher and research supervisor, and a cheerful and supportive departmental colleague. A prescient, pioneering and highly informative book on the history of Geography at Queen Mary College, written by June, was published In 1994 with the title A Century of Geography. A prize in her name is awarded for the best performance by a second year (level 5) human geography student at QMUL.


Robin Butlin   University of Leeds