Augustus Henry Keane (1833–1912) was an Irish Roman Catholic journalist and linguist, known for his ethnological writings.

Early life

He was born in Cork , Ireland . [50] [51] He was educated in Cork, Dublin and Jersey , and graduated at the Roman Catholic College, Dublin . [4]

In Glasgow

Keane was editor of the Glasgow Free Press from 1862. He and his deputy Peter McCorry turned the first Scottish Catholic newspaper into a campaigning sheet, setting the Irish priests against the Scottish priests, and in particular the vicars-apostolic. The paper supported the nationalist Patrick Lavelle , [5] who used its pages to attack Paul Cullen . [6] John Murdoch , the Vicar Apostolic of the Western District was another particular target, the background being the increasing number of Irish Catholic priests in Scotland, and an increasing Irish immigrant population. [7] Keane and McCorry found themselves in court proceedings. [8]

The policy of the Glasgow Free Press under Keane and then McCorry had only short-term direct effects, and the paper was shut down after the intervention by Cardinal Manning towards the end of the 1860s; but the divisions it revealed have been taken as important in the move towards restoring the Scottish Catholic hierarchy , which occurred in 1878. Keane may have drifted from the Catholic faith in later life. [5]

Linguist, geographer, ethnologist

He studied in Germany and taught at Hameln ; [9] and became a linguist. He taught languages including Hindustani at the Hartley Institute, Southampton ; a chair of Hindustani was created for him at University College, London , in 1883, but he left it in 1885. [51] He then spent a period lecturing on ethnology at the University of Virginia in Charlotteville . [4]

Keane belonged to the "philological" group of British linguists, with Richard Garnett , Thomas Hewitt Key , Isaac Taylor , John Horne Tooke and Hensleigh Wedgwood . [10] He began attending meetings of the a Royal Anthropological Institute in 1879, read papers there, and became a Fellow, serving as vice-president. He was granted a Civil List pension in 1897. [2] Keane was a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society .


Keane's racial theories were published first in Nature in 1879–81. He affirmed the specific unity of human beings in his 1896 text Ethnology , even if his views had some other implications. He produced racial typologies, in his expository writings; they were more systematic than those of John George Wood and Robert Brown , and were intended for rote learning. [12]

Keane was out of step with the anthropology of the time, preferring linguistic data to that of physical anthropology and came to occupy a marginal position in the emerging scientific discipline. [13] On the other hand, his efforts at popularising anthropology were praised by Sir Harry Johnston . [12]

Keane's views were invoked by F. W. Bell in South Africa from 1908, with those of Robert Bennett Bean , and played a part in the move of the Transvaal Native Affairs Society towards a segregationist position. [14] He was known for his sympathies displayed in The Boer States (1900), in which he attributed the long-term issue behind the Boer Wars to the attitude of Lord Glenelg in the 1830s. [12] The stance taken by Keane, who has been described as a "virulent racist", was conveyed in person when he addressed the Transvaal Native Affairs Society in September 1909. He cited Robert Wilson Shufeldt of Virginia, author of The Negro a Menace to American Civilization (1907), aiding the Bell faction against the moderates around Howard Pim. [13]


  • Ancient Peruvian art: contributions to the archaeology of the empire of the Incas , translator, original by Arthur Baessler [37]
  • Philosophy Historical and Critical (1879), translator, original by André Lefèvre [38]
  • The Science of Language. Linguistics, Philology, Etymology , translator, original by Abel Hovelacque
  • The Antichrist Legend; a chapter in Christian and Jewish folklore , translator, original by Wilhelm Bousset
  • The Early Teutonic, Italian and French Masters (reprinted 2004), translator from the work of Robert Dohme [39]
  • The Chittagong Hill Tribes: results of a journey made in the year 1882 (1885), translator, original by Emil Riebeck
  • Travels in Africa during the years 1882-1886 , translator, original by Wilhelm Junker
  • The Childhood of Man , translator, original by Leo Frobenius
  • Diego Velazquez and His Times , translator, original by Carl Justi .

He contributed ethnological appendices to the volumes of Edward Stanford 's Compendium of Geography and Travel , which was based on Friedrich von Hellwald 's Die Erde und ihre Völker . An English edition of La Nouvelle Géographic universelle, la terre et les hommes , 19 vols. (1875—94) of Elisée Reclus appeared as The Earth and Its Inhabitants [40] [41] the first volumes were edited by Ernest George Ravenstein , the rest by Keane. [42] With Sir Stanley Reed he edited Bradshaw's Through Routes to the Chief Cities of the World (1907). [43]

A prolific author, Keane wrote encyclopedia articles, in particular for the Encyclopædia Britannica . His articles included "Negro" in the 9th edition, which included details of the racial theory of Filippo Manetta. [44] [45] He also wrote magazine articles and textbooks; he contributed 800 entries to Cassell's Storehouse of General Information . In 1905 he was involved in the part publishing venture The Living Races of Man , illustrated with 800 photographs. [12]