John Scott Keltie

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Sir John Scott Keltie
Keltie in 1885
Born (1840-03-29)29 March 1840
Dundee, Scotland
Died 12 January 1927(1927-01-12) (aged 86)
London, England
Occupation geographer
Known for work with the Royal Geographic Society
Awards Cullum Geographical Medal (1914)
Victoria Medal (1917)

Sir John Scott Keltie FRGS FSS[1] (29 March 1840 – 12 January 1927) was a Scottish geographer, best known for his work with the Royal Geographic Society.


Keltie was born in Dundee and attended school in Perth. He matriculated at the University of St Andrews and the University of Edinburgh. He also completed a course of study at the Theological Hall of the United Presbyterian Church in Edinburgh, but did not go into a religious career.[2]

Keltie later moved to London in 1871 to join Macmillan Publishers, where in 1873 he became sub-editor of the journal Nature and began separately to write articles on geography for The Times. In 1880, he was taken on as editor of The Statesman's Yearbook for Macmillan.[2]

In 1883, Keltie joined the Royal Geographic Society and quickly became heavily involved in its activities. He was later appointed its Inspector of Geographical Education in 1884, and undertook a thorough review of the state of geography education in the UK, producing an influential 150-page report. In 1885, he became the Society's librarian, and upon the death of Henry Walter Bates in 1892, succeeded him as Assistant Secretary of the Society (in effect its Secretary, as the official Secretary was a figurehead from the nobility). Among his first tasks was the relaunching of the Proceedings of the Royal Geographic Society as the Geographical Journal in 1893, in order to appeal to a wider audience. He was officially given the title of Secretary in 1896.[2]

Keltie retired as Secretary of the Society in 1915 and was succeeded by Arthur Robert Hinks, though he remained as joint editor (with Hinks) of the Geographical Journal until 1917.

He died in London in 1927.[2]


Keltie received various awards during his long career. In 1917, he was presented the Society's Victoria Medal. He also received the Cullum Geographical Medal of the American Geographical Society, and the gold medals of the Paris and Royal Scottish Geographical Societies.[2]

In 1918, Keltie was made a Knight Bachelor.[1]

In popular culture[edit]

Keltie was portrayed by Clive Francis in the 2016 film The Lost City of Z.


  1. ^ a b "New Year Honours. The Official Lists., New Peers And Baronets., Long Roll Of Soldiers. (transcription)" (41675). London: The Times. January 1, 1918. p. 8. Retrieved December 24, 2008. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Hugh Robert Mill (1927). "Obituary: Sir John Scott Keltie". The Geographical Journal. 69 (3): 281–284. 

External links[edit]