Ronald Johnston

1941 - 2020

Ron Johnston, a human geographer who helped shape the discipline and was a winner of a Lifetime Achievement Award from AAG, died on May 29, 2020 at the age of 79. A prolific author and co-author of more than 1,000 publications, including 50 books and 800 articles, he specialized  in quantitative and political geography, but also ranged widely in urban and social issues, electoral geographies, and the history of geography.

During his career, Johnston was appointed an officer of the Order of the British Empire for services to scholarship in 2011, He also received the Murchison Award and Victoria Medal from the Royal Geographical Society, and the Prix Vautrin Lud at the International Geography Festival 1999.

Born in 1941, Johnston grew up in Swindon. He attributed his love of geography to studying maps during childhood. Educated at Commonweal School, Swindon, in 1959 he went to study Geography at the University of Manchester, and earned a PhD from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. He returned to Great Britain in 1974, where he served as a chair and eventually Pro-Vice Chancellor at the University of Sheffield for 18 years, He subsequently moved to Essex as Vice Chancellor, then joined Bristol’s School of Geographical Sciences  in 1995.

Of Johnston’s many books, two– the Dictionary of Human Geography and Geography and Geographers – stand out for scores of undergraduate geographers: the latter (jointly authored) is in its seventh edition. Ron’s work on the British electoral system was interdisciplinary long before such research became popular.He advised all three main political parties, civil servants, House of Commons’ Select Committees and the Boundary Commission.

Johnston is survived by his wife Rita, two children, Christopher and Lucy, and by his grandchildren and great grandchildren.