Robert Keable

Robert Keable Brief Biography

Robert Keable (6 March 1887 - 22 December 1927) was a British novelist, formerly a missionary and priest in the Church of England. He resigned his ministry following his experiences in the First World War and caused a scandal with his 1921 novel Simon Called Peter, the tale of a priest's wartime affair with a young nurse. The book sold 600,000 copies in the 1920s alone, was referenced in The Great Gatsby, and was cited in a double murder investigation. Fted in the United States, but critically less than well-received, Keable moved to Tahiti where he continued to write, producing both novels and theological works, until his death at age 40 of a kidney complaint.

Keable was raised in Bedfordshire and educated at Magdalene College, Cambridge. He entered a theological college after graduation and was ordained a priest in 1911. He spent the next several years as a missionary in Africa, stationed on Zanzibar and in Basutoland, before returning to Europe as an army chaplain during the First World War. There, he met and fell in love with a young nurse, Grace Eileen Joly Beresford Buck, a development over which he eventually quit the Church of England and left his wife, Sybil. Returning to England after the war, Keable resigned his ministry and began to write novels: his first, 1921's Simon Called Peter, became a runaway success and launched Keable into a life of literary celebrity. Increasingly disillusioned with the hypocrisies he saw in contemporary British life, he and Buck left Europe for Tahiti in 1922. The couple lived there happily until Buck's death in childbirth in 1924, after which Keable's health began to fade. He nonetheless struck up a later relationship with a Tahitian woman, Ina, with whom he had a son, and continued to publish novels until his death of a kidney condition in 1927.

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