Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Henry Arthur Kellow (1881–1935)

by Cecil Hadgraft and Lorna L. McDonald

This article was published:

Henry Arthur Kellow (1881-1935), headmaster and literary critic, was born on 8 July 1881 at Guard Bridge, Fifeshire, Scotland, son of Henry Edward Kellow, railway stationmaster, and his wife Agnes, née Macgregor. Educated at Airdrie Academy and Glasgow University (M.A.), he won honours in English and history and was a university prizeman. From 1904 he taught briefly at Calderbank Public School at Airdrie, moved to Airdrie Academy, then settled down as head of English at Allan Glen's School, Glasgow. Kellow travelled widely, as far south as Morocco and north as Scandinavia. In 1912 he was offered three choices: a position as principal in India, an inspectorship in the Scottish Education Department and the headship of Rockhampton Grammar School, Queensland. Perhaps his passion for travel inspired his decision to migrate to Queensland. On 8 May he married Mary Hope and the couple left Scotland, which he was never to see again.

In Rockhampton, as headmaster of the grammar school, Kellow for many years faced unceasing demands on his resources in managing finance, staff and school organization. With the reduction of state subsidies to non-government schools, all Queensland grammar schools were struggling and for a time they seemed doomed. For some years Kellow was obliged to teach full time as well as perform his administrative duties. A man of considerable personality, he exercised discipline with a mere glance. As a teacher he could be luminous and cut to the heart of a question. He played an active role in the community as a university extension lecturer, an advocate of a women's college in the university and as a participant in the fight to revive the Mount Morgan mine.

In 1911 Harrap had published in its 'Poetry and Life' series Kellow's Burns and his Poetry, a very popular booklet. His A Practical Training in English of the same year ran through several revised editions. With its heuristic methods it was something of a pioneer work. His anthology, A Treasury of Scottish Verse, appeared in 1912. He had in mind a volume on Dr Johnson, but the notes which he had intended to take to Queensland were stolen and he never resumed the undertaking. Apart from some newspaper articles and public lectures, Kellow let his pen lie idle for some fifteen years before writing Queensland Poets (1930). Although his subjects were minor poets, perhaps only two or three of whom were likely to be considered in a national context, the book was important, both as the first coverage of the area completed at a very early date and as a perceptive and stylish essay. In 1931 Kellow was made a fellow of the Educational Institute of Scotland in recognition of his services to education by example, practice and writing.

Kellow died of pneumonia on 6 September 1935 and was buried in North Rockhampton cemetery. His wife and three of their four children survived him.

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  • L. McDonald, Henry Arthur Kellow (Townsville, 1981), and for bibliography
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Citation details

Cecil Hadgraft and Lorna L. McDonald, 'Kellow, Henry Arthur (1881–1935)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1983, accessed online 3 March 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, (Melbourne University Press), 1983

View the front pages for Volume 9

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


8 July, 1881
Guard Bridge, Fife, Scotland


6 September, 1935 (aged 54)
Queensland, Australia

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