Longman was born on 24 June 1880 at Heytesbury, Wiltshire, England, son of Frederick Longman, a Congregational minister, and his wife Susan, née Passmore. He shared with the much older Griffith the distinction of having a Congregational minister as a father, but Longman’s father had liberal views. For Longman, they were ideas not liberal enough, and he articulated his agnostic position in a book called, The Religion of a Naturalist (London, 1911).
At the age of 23, Longman arrived in Queensland (1902). He, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, could be known as the ‘man behind the woman’; the woman being his famous wife, Irene Maud, whom he married in 1904, and who is well-known as the first Queensland female parliamentarian, Irene Longman.
The couple settled in Toowoomba where Longman edited and managed a number of local newspapers. In 1911 the Longmans moved to Brisbane when he was appointed scientific assistant at the Queensland Museum under the directorship of Dr Ronald Hamlyn-Harris. In 1917, when Hamlyn-Harris resigned his position, Longman was appointed assistant director and then director in the following year. Although he lacked formal qualifications, Longman diligently built up research work in zoology, specialising in vertebrate palaeontology, establishing a reputation internationally. He became a fellow of the Linnean Society of London and of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, and corresponding member of the Zoological Society of London.
Longman was also recognised in the state and the country for his scientific work. He was the President of the Royal Society of Queensland (1919, 1939) and the Queensland Naturalists' Club, as Vice-Chairman of the Great Barrier Reef Committee, member of the Australian National Research Council. In 1946 he received the Australian Natural History medallion and in 1952 the Mueller medal.
Far less understood in Queensland were his wider philosophical beliefs. Longman was foundational President of the Queensland Rationalist (and Ethical) Society in 1914. Longman was an associate of James Vincent Duhig, through the Society and work that Duhig contributed to the Queensland Museum.
See Heber Longman on Scatterplot Matrix.
C. H. Gill, 'Longman, Albert Heber (1880–1954)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/longman-albert-heber-7227/text12513, published in hardcopy 1986, accessed online 18 September 2014.
Albert Heber Longman (1880-1954)
Palaeontologist, and Agnostic Rationalist