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.

Princess Ina Salmon, Helen of Troy of Tahiti

Princess Ina Salmon, Helen of Troy of Tahiti

July 04, 2022

In my book Utterly Immoral I explain how Robert Keable met and married, (or as we might say today – co-habited with) Princess Ina, the Helen of Troy of Tahiti. But who was Princess Ina, and what happened to her after Robert Keable died?

First things first, I need to explain why Ina Salmon was a princess. This is a little complicated so you may want to skip this bit and move on to after Ina was born!

Before Ina was born

In 1842 Ina’s great grandfather Alexander Salmon, the s…

Robert Keable in Tahiti with Hall & Nordhoff

Robert Keable in Tahiti with Hall & Nordhoff

July 02, 2022

Meeting the children of James Norman Hall and Charles Nordhoff 

While researching Robert Keable’s time in Tahiti for my book Utterly Immoral I came across an amazing cast of characters, including the British writer Alec Waugh, the artist Robert Lee Eskeridge, novelist Zane Grey and the Tahitian ‘Helen of Troy’, Princess Ina Salmon.

Two others, surely the most famous Americans living on Tahiti at that time, were the writers Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall. Alr…

Before Utterly Immoral, No. 3, Dr Tim Couzens

Before Utterly Immoral, No. 3, Dr Tim Couzens

July 01, 2022

Utterly Immoral is the first full biography of Robert Keable. However, three writers and academics (Dr James Douglas, Dr Hugh Cecil and Dr Tim Couzens) all started work on writing or co-writing full biographies, and for different reasons did not complete their work. I have written about Dr James Douglas and Dr Hugh Cecil in previous blogs, so next up is Tim Couzens.

My father, Tony Keable-Elliott (Robert Keable’s son), was originally introduced to Tim by Hugh Cecil. In 1996 Hugh and Ti…

Before Utterly Immoral, No. 2, Dr Hugh Cecil

Before Utterly Immoral, No. 2, Dr Hugh Cecil

June 30, 2022

Utterly Immoral is the first full biography of Robert Keable. However, three writers and academics (Dr James Douglas, Dr Hugh Cecil and Dr Tim Couzens) all started work on writing, or co-writing, full biographies, and for different reasons did not complete their work. I wrote about Dr James Douglas in a previous blog so next up is Hugh Cecil.

Hugh Cecil first contacted my father, Tony Keable-Elliott (Robert Keable’s first son) in December 1985 to explain he was writing a book on t…

Letters from Tahiti, No. 2, March 1923

Letters from Tahiti, No. 2, March 1923

June 30, 2022

Whilst researching the chapter on Tahiti for my book Utterly Immoral, I came across two letters that Jolie Keable had written to Wuffy, (the nickname for the mother-in-law of her good friend Rita Elliott). I posted the first letter a few days ago so here is the second, sent on March 21st, 1923. By then Robert and Jolie were well settled into their life in Tahiti. Robert had a number of writing projects on the go and Jolie was running the house.

My Dear Wuffy,

I was hoping I should have h…

Finding the location of Paul Gauguin's house in Tahiti

Finding the location of Paul Gauguin's house in Tahiti

June 29, 2022

The truth is my book Utterly Immoral, which is published in November 2022, is the product of many years of research into the life of Robert Keable. Back in 2016 I visited Tahiti to find out as much as I could. One priority for me on that visit was to find the exact location of the French Impressionist Paul Gauguin’s house which Robert and Jolie Keable lived in for almost a year in 1923. I wrote about my search in a diary at the time.

 

Robert Keable loved driving along the coas…

Before Utterly Immoral, No. 1, Dr James Douglas

Before Utterly Immoral, No. 1, Dr James Douglas

June 28, 2022

Utterly Immoral is the first full biography of Robert Keable. However, three writers and academics (Dr James Douglas, Dr Hugh Cecil and Dr Tim Couzens) all started work on writing or co-writing full biographies, and for different reasons did not complete their work. The first of these was the Church of Scotland Minister, journalist, editor, educator, and author, Dr James Douglas.

In November 2001 James Douglas plucked up courage to contact my father, Tony Keable-Elliott (Robert Keable&rsquo…

Letters from Tahiti, No. 1, January 1923

Letters from Tahiti, No. 1, January 1923

June 25, 2022

Whilst researching the chapter on Tahiti for my book Utterly Immoral, I came across two letters that Jolie Keable had written to Wuffy, (the nickname for the mother-in-law of her good friend Rita Elliott). Robert had first met Jolie in France during the First World War and she was the inspiration for Julie, the free-spirited nurse in Simon Called Peter. When Robert Keable returned to England from Basutoland at the end of 1920 he secretly met up again with Jolie and the two made plans to run awa…

Robert Keable's walk through Stone Town, Zanzibar, 1913

Robert Keable's walk through Stone Town, Zanzibar, 1913

June 25, 2022

Robert Keable lived in Zanzibar for over a year, before the First World War, working as a missionary for the Universities Mission for Central Africa. Whilst there he wrote, and had specially printed, a series of letters which he sent to friends and family. Later he collected these together and published edited versions in his book City of Dawn. It was in this book that he developed his reputation for descriptive writing. The Church Times wrote in their review:

Mr Keable has the two grea…

Robert Keable and Croydon

Robert Keable and Croydon

June 25, 2022

Robert Keable moved with his parents to Croydon at the turn of the century and he attended school there up until 1905, before winning a scholarship to Cambridge. He lived at 40 Friend’s Road in the centre of town. When I first went looking for the house, I found myself circling a large building with cameras tracking my every move. Only once I had peered at the building from all angles did I realise it was the main Croydon police station which had been built on the site of his old hou…

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