The life of

Robert Keable


Born in Clapham, London, March 6th


According to census living at 189 Park Hill, Clapham


According to census living at 10 Friend’s Road, Croydon

Starts at Whitgift Grammar School, Croydon, April 29th


Robert’s father appointed curate, St Matthews, Croydon


Made a prefect at Whitgift, September

Robert’s father ordained priest at Canterbury Cathedral, 24th December


Leaves Whitgift Grammar School, Croydon, July

Awarded Latimer-Neville History Exhibition to Magdalene College, Cambridge

Starts three year-course at Cambridge University, September


Member of Children’s Special Service Mission team to Port Erin, Isle of Man, August


Starts at Cambridge Clergy Training School (now Westcott House), September


Begins curacy in Bradford, Yorkshire, August

Ordained deacon at Ripon Cathedral, September 25th


According to census has lodgings in Bradford with landlady Harriet Hargreaves

Helps launch a mission to Bury, September 16th

Ordained priest at Ripon Cathedral, September 24th

Sails for Zanzibar, as member of the Universities Mission to Central Africa, November


Joins staff of St. Andrew’s College - Kinugani, Zanzibar as vice-principle, January

Darkness and Light, published, June


Founds first Scout groups in Zanzibar

Loneliness of Christ published, May

Kikuyu incident begins following conference in June


Returns from Zanzibar to England, January

Takes MA from Cambridge

Great Britain declares war on Germany, August 4th

Applies unsuccessfully to become an army chaplain

Songs of Narrow Way (collection of poems) published, October


Sailed for South Africa on Kildonan Castle, January

Begins work as parish priest at St. Saviour’s Hlotse, as rector of Leribe, Basutoland

A City of the Dawn, published, April

Marries Sybil Armitage at St Cyprian’s, Durban, June 7th

The Adventures of Paul Kangai, published, October


Shot in the right thigh in Mokhotlong by Khomoapinya, April

Recovering at Grey’s Hospital, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, until July


SS Mendi sinks in the English Channel with death of over 600 SANLC men, February 21st

The Perpetual Sacrifice; Meditations on the Passion, published, March

Commissioned as Captain and Chaplain to the SANLC, May

Completed training at Rosebank Camp, Cape Town, and sails for France, June

In France from August 29th, originally stationed in Rouen, before moving to La Havre.

The Worth of an African (article) published in The East and West Quarterly, October

The Child (short story) published in Treasury Magazine, December


Meets Jolie Buck, a driver for the Canadian Forestry Corps

African Priests in France (article) published in The East and West Quarterly, January

The Drift of Pinions (collection of stories) published, July

This Same Jesus, published September

Robert’s brother Henry dies in Malta, September 11th

Discharged from SANLC, in Cape town, October 4th

First recorded baptism back in Leribe, October 18th

First World War armistice November 11th


Writes first draft of Simon Called Peter in three weeks

Standing By published, September

Keable’s wife Sybil leaves South Africa on Llanstephen Castle, November


Last recorded baptisms in Leribe, April 28th

Resigns as a priest and leaves Leribe, May

Travels slowly back to England walking much of Spain, May – July

Joins Sybil at Bates Cottage, West Wratting, Cambridge, September

Pilgrim’s Papers published, November

Slave, Serf, Citizen – and the way back (article) published December


Simon Called Peter published in UK, April

Teacher at Dulwich College for half a term, summer

According to census living at 14 Park Street, Dulwich

Rents cottage with Sybil in Steyning, West Sussex for summer

Begins teaching at Dunstable Grammar, September 20th

Moves to 1 Peter’s Road, Dunstable, Bedfordshire, September

The Mother of All Living published in UK, December 1st


Simon Called Peter published by in USA, January 9th

Visits Germany in the Easter holidays

Leaves Dunstable Grammar after year of teaching, July

The Mother of all Living published by in USA, August 9th

Draws up separation agreement with Sybil, August

Leaves Southampton on SS Bendigo, September 7th

The Censorship of Thought published in Nonesensorship, September

Eleanor Mills and Rev. Edward Hall bodies found Somerset County, NJ, September 16th

Peradventure published in UK, September 19th

Jolie Buck travels to Australia on SS Omar leaving on September 22nd

Arrives in Australia, October 16th

Boston judge fines woman $100 for circulating Simon Called Peter, October 19th

Meets up with Jolie (who has changed her name to Jolie Keable) in Melbourne, October

Lecture at Protestant Hall, Sydney on Modern Marriage, November 8th

Arrives in Tahiti and rents Paul Gauguin’s house, Punaauia, December

Starts to live with Jolie as his common-in-law wife, December


Spends first nine months in Tahiti writing and exploring island

Purchases a valley near Papeari and designs a house

RJ Fletcher agrees to co-ordinate building of the house

Leaves Tahiti on El Kautara sailing to Marseilles, 3rd September

Arrives back in England, November

Based at Hotel Belgrade, Grosvenor Gardens, November - December

Departs on grand tour, December


Travels south through France to Algiers, January

Recompense published in UK, February

Premiere of play of Simon Called Peter in Washington, February 7th

Travels from Algeria to Malta, February

Recompense published in USA, March 28th

Travels from Malta to Egypt, March

Travels from Egypt to Greece, April

Returns to England, May

Plans to return to Tahiti deferred, due to Jolie’s pregnancy

Rents Harman’s Orchard, Crockham Hill, Kent for the summer

Warner Brothers buy rights to Recompense, May 22nd

Writes two articles for Radio Times, June

Tahiti, Isle of Dreams serialised in Asia Magazine from October

Simon Called Peter opens on Broadway at Klaw Theatre, November 10th

Jolie dies in childbirth aged 25, November 14th

First son, Robert Anthony Keable, (later Tony Keable-Elliott) born, November 14th


Leaves Southampton on RMSP Orca, January 2nd

Simon Called Peter transfers to Broadhurst Theatre, Broadway, January 12th

Arrives New York at invitation of Warner Brothers, January 14th

Attends performance of Simon Called Peter, January 16th

Numerous Treasure published in UK, January 29th

Numerous Treasure published in USA, March 14th

The Watch and Ward Society ban Numerous Treasure in Boston, March

Returns to Tahiti to live in new house, Teahuahu, Papeari, March

Recompense directed by Harry Beaumont, released by Warner Brothers, April 26th

Ill with kidney disease, sails on RMS Maunganui from Papeete, August 25th

Month in St. Luke’s hospital San Francisco, September

James Norman Hall and new wife Sarah honeymoon at Keable’s house, September

Leaves San Francisco enroute back to Tahiti, December 2nd


Completes new novel Lighten Our Darkness, March 29th

Princess Ina Salmon and her two children come to stay, April

Visits Rarotonga to stay with King Tiniaru, June

Leaves Tahiti for San Francisco on RMS Maunganui, July 27th

Arrives in Liverpool on SS Doric, August 31st

Travels to Switzerland and Italy to meet parents, September

Preaches in a church for first time in six years, Glasgow, November 7th

Lectures on Tahiti in Prague, Czechoslovakia, November 30th

Staying with Jack and Rita Elliott and his son Tony, Stokenchurch, Bucks, Christmas


Left Liverpool on SS Aurania heading to New York, January 1st

Speech in San Francisco, at League of American Pen Women dinner, January 29th

Lighten Our Darkness published in UK, February 17th

Returns to Tahiti and invites Alec Waugh to stay, March

Starts to live with Ina as his common-in-law wife, March

Ann Decides (US title for Lighten Our Darkness) published, April

Completes final novel Madness of Monty, June 28th

Meets Zane Grey and goes out on his fishing boat, July 23rd

Robert Lee Eskridge stays and paints Ina, July

James Norman Hall starts work as his secretary, September

Dictates The Great Galilean to James Norman Hall, October

Ina gives birth to his second son Henry Reheaenoa, November 10th

Dies peacefully at his home in Tahiti, December 22nd

Buried in Uranie Cemetery, Papeete, December 23rd