Robert Keable, a chaplain to the SANLC during the First World War, was a popular novelist in the 1920s. Simon Keable-Elliott is posting regular articles about his life and times which build on his book Utterly Immoral.
November 23, 2023
Robert Keable claimed in the introduction to the American edition of Simon Called Peter that his intention was to ‘lift the veil’ on the life behind the lines during the war. He argued that the horror of war made men and women less restrained, ‘reckless’ and willing to throw ‘conventions to the winds’. And he suggested life in France was like the pages of La Vie Parisienne:
A man arrived, weary and dirty and craving for excitement, in some unknown town; in…
November 09, 2023
Robert Keable was a full-time writer for the last few years of his life having previously been a priest and rising star on the Anglo-Catholic section of the Church of England. However, he was also a historian and for four terms in the early 1920s a history teacher.
His father was a successful businessman who retrained as a priest, moving to Croydon at the turn of the century. Keable embraced his parents’ evangelical faith and threw himself into the life of the church, preaching in the…
November 03, 2023
Many of us have fond memories of our time as undergraduates at university and Robert Keable was no exception. He loved his time at Magdalene College, Cambridge and was proud to leave a trust fund to pay for poor students from his old school – Whitgift Grammar – to study history at the college. His best written novel, Peradventure, is a semi-autobiographical account of his time there. Little effort is made to disguise people or places. Paul Kestern’s upbringing and views are hi…
November 07, 2023
When I first started to research the life of Robert Keable almost 25 years ago, I began by reading his obituaries written back in 1927. All of them mentioned that he taught at Dulwich College in South London. I was surprised therefore when I came across a letter from the then archivist at the school WJ Wright to Dr Douglas dated 26th October 1959.
I cannot find a trace of him, no mention in the Alleynian, nor is he included in the list of Assist…
April 23, 2023
Robert Keable, my grandfather, died aged just 40 in 1927. To say he led an unconventional life would be an understatement. He was born in London, won a scholarship to Cambridge University, was ordained as a Church of England priest, spent a year in Zanzibar as a member of the University Mission to Central Africa (UMCA), became a parish priest in Basutoland (Lesotho) and travelled to France as a padre in the South African Native Labour Contingent (SANLC). After returning from Fra…
March 02, 2023
Although I published my book on Robert Keable last November I still manage to stumble on new material about him. Only yesterday I came across a long article in the Literary Digest International Book Review by Fletcher Allen titled Keable – Novelist and Rebel, written in 1923.
The article runs through Keable’s career and goes over much of the same territory as in my book but there are some fascinating insights including an intriguing description of the man.
Fletcher Allen begin…
February 25, 2023
In my book Utterly Immoral I write about Robert Keable’s time in Zanzibar. He arrived on the island at the beginning of January 1912 taking up the post of vice-principle of St. Andrew’s College.
Keable – newly priested, having just finished a one-year curacy in Bradford – had joined the Universities Mission of Central Africa (UMCA), an organisation he had campaigned for ever since he heard Frank Weston, Bishop of Zanzibar, call for volunteers in a major speech at Cam…
December 21, 2022
On Friday 16th Decemebr 2022 my aricle on Robert Keable was published in the Church Times. You can see it online at:
December 08, 2022
The Bishop of Zanzibar and Robert Keable
Frank Weston was one of the greats of Anglo-Catholicism of the early twentieth century. Indeed Desmond Morse-Boycott, in his introduction to his book on the saints and heroes of the Oxford Movement, wrote nine years after his death, in 1933:
the hero of the Movement is still Frank Weston, the late Bishop of Zanzibar, a man in a million, nay more, of a century, even of an aeon. When the mourning bells tolled in the cathedral of Zanzibar, built where…
December 06, 2022
As I explain in my book, Utterly Immoral, Robert Keable made a number of religious journeys during his life, perhaps the most significant being his move from Low Church evangelical to High Church Anglo-Catholic. His father had been a late recruit to the Church, becoming a priest in his late forties. He and his wife were very puritanical, and Robert was happy throughout his childhood to embrace their values and way of life.
Robert becomes an Anglo-Catholic
It was at Cambridge, particularl…
December 06, 2022
Robert Keable's girlfriend during the War, Jolie Buck was my grandmother, so when I began to reasearch Robert Keable's life I clearly had a vested interest in finding out as much as I could about her as well. Her mother had been a Beresford so I thought it would be fun to join the Beresford Society. Very kindly they have published a short article by me, on Jolie, in their society magazine under the heading Beresford girl Jolie Buck.
Article for the Beresford (Autumn 2022)
November 21, 2022
The History News Network (http://hnn.us/)
The History News Network (popularly known as HNN) is hosted by the George Washington University. Their mission is to put current events into historical perspective. HNN sponsors several history-orientated blogs as well as each week featuring fresh op-eds often by prominent historians. The editor-in-chief, Michan Connor PhD, kindly wrote that he found my contribution ‘a very informative and compellingly written essay that makes a strong case for…