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Joseph Keating

(1871—1934) novelist


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(1871–1934) married (1926) Catherine Annie Herbert. Born of Irish Catholic parents in Mountain Ash, Glamorgan, he worked in a colliery from the age of 12 and went down the pit at 14. He subsequently worked as a pedlar, in the Post Office, as a violinist, as a clerk and then as a reporter. His autobiography, My Struggle for Life (1916), chronicles the hardships of a friendless Welshman attempting to become an author. Though Son of Judith: A Tale of the Welsh Mining Valleys (1900), of the school of Germinal (1885) by Émile Zola (1840–1902), achieved publication after several rejections and made quite a stir, Keating made hardly any money from it. A breakdown was followed by an unsuccessful foray to London in 1904. He worked as a journalist and published short stories under other names. According to his version he was cheated by publishers and literary agents. He returned to London in 1906. The fifteenth publisher accepted The Great Appeal (1909), which is set in London high society. Lord Francis Stormont's brilliant political career is ruined when he is falsely accused of adultery; he and his faithful fiancée, the daughter of a newspaper proprietor, retrieve his career by campaigning on a programme to eliminate unemployment by banning child labour and female labour, lessening the hours of work, and raising wages. Despite the fact that London Opinion placarded the Strand with sandwich-men proclaiming ‘Novelist insults the King’, the novel was a complete failure and Keating had to go on living off his short stories. He was in particularly low water in 1911. But the success of The Perfect Wife (1913) and the play Peggy and Her Husband (1914) restored his fortunes. He went on writing novels and plays until his death and translated Zola's novel Nana (1880) in 1926. His brother Matthew Keating (1869–1937) was Nationalist MP for South Kilkenny (1909–18).

From The Oxford Companion to Edwardian Fiction in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Literature.


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