Talk for all other groups including libraries

Utterly Immoral, Robert Keable and his scandulous novel

Just a brief email of appreciation of your talk last night - lively, lots of novel information and funny. All in all a warming evening on a cold night.

Friends of Tate South Lambeth Jan 2023

Great event last night, Thanks and unlike a fair few of the academic events I go to, everything could be heard, spoke/enunciated clearly, remembered that there was an audience and knew how to use the sound equipment.

Friend of the Carnegie library, July 2023

Utterly Immoral, Robert Keable and his scandulous novel

In this talk Simon discusses his book Utterly Immoral which details the extraordinary life of Robert Keable, who was born in Battersea and bought up in South London before winning a scholarship to Cambridge. Simon talks about Keable's novel Simon Called Peter which caused a scandal  in the 1920s. He also covers Keable's life as a priest, missionary and WW1 chaplain to the South African Native Labour Corps; the impact the war had on his faith and marriage, the reaction to his bestselling scandalous novel, his time in Tahiti living in Gauguin’s house before marrying a Tahitian princess and the success he had as a writer of 20 books and many articles and poems.

Robert Keable’s First World War novel, Simon Called Peter shone a light on life behind the front lines during the war. The story centred on an affair between a chaplain and a nurse. The book was slated by the critics and considered so ‘utterly immoral’ by F Scott Fitzgerald that he mocked it in The Great Gatsby. Despite being banned in parts of America it became a huge international bestseller, made into a Broadway play and the sequel into a Hollywood movie.

The author’s life was truly extraordinary. As a child he was an evangelical preacher. He won a scholarship to Cambridge, became a priest, worked in Zanzibar and Basutoland as a missionary and gained a reputation as a writer of devotional books. He recruited black labourers to help with the war effort and in 1917 travelled to France as chaplain to the SANLC. Witnessing the appalling racism the men faced ‘changed him’, as well as an affair with a 19 year-old lorry driver called Jolie. He left the church and after a year as a teacher back in England he fled the country to go and live in Tahiti. He continued to write and remained an international celebrity throughout the 1920s.

Other talks

Simon gives a number of other talks to groups like the Arts Society, Western Front Association or the Family History society. He will be happy to tailor any talk towards your needs.

Simon Keable-Elliott is Robert Keable’s grandson. He has been researching Robert Keable’s life and work for the last thirty years and having taken early retirement following 25 years as a politics teacher he is now a full-time writer and lecturer. His first novel Utterly Immoral, Robert Keable and his scandalous novel, came out in November 2022.

To see a list of  talks and lectures by Simon please visit his events page:


If you require any further information, please do email Simon on [email protected] or use the contact page to send a message.