Keith, Agnes Newton

Alternative names

Hide Profile

Agnes Jones Goodwillie Newton Keith was born in Oak Park, Illinois in 1901. While she was still young, her family moved to California. Her father was a founder of the Del Monte Company. Agnes attended the University of California, Berkeley, graduating in 1924. In 1934 she married Henry G. "Harry" Keith, an Englishman who was an acquaintance from Agnes' childhood, and was then a forester employed by the Government of North Borneo. The Keiths lived in Sandakan, North Borneo from 1934 to 1945. During the Japanese invasion of Borneo in World War II the Keiths were imprisoned at various internee camps. After the liberation of Borneo, the Keiths moved to British Columbia, Canada. They returned to Sandakan in 1947 and remained there until 1952. The Keiths later lived in the Philippines and Libya before retiring to British Columbia. Agnes Newton Keith died in 1982. Harry Keith died later that same year. Agnes is best known for her books depicting her experiences in Borneo.

From the description of Pictorial material from the Agnes Newton Keith papers [graphic]. ca. 1934-ca. 1975, bulk ca. 1939-ca. 1966. (University of California, Berkeley). WorldCat record id: 680313021

Agnes Jones Goodwillie Newton Keith (1901-1982) was an American author, known for her autobiographical accounts of her family's experiences in Borneo, the Philippines, and Libya. Keith was born in Illinois, grew up in California, and graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 1924. She worked briefly for the San Francisco Examiner, but a random assault by a man with a grudge against the newspaper put an end to her journalistic career and damaged her health for several years. In 1934 she married Henry G. (Harry) Keith and followed him to his post in Borneo, which became the subject of her first book, Land Below the Wind (1939). After the Japanese invaded Borneo in 1942, Keith, her husband, and her young son George were interned in prison camps for the duration of the war. Keith turned these experiences into her second and most popular book, Three Came Home (1947). After a post-war recuperation period in Canada, the Keiths returned to Borneo, and Keith wrote her third book about the region, White Man Returns (1951). Harry Keith's work subsequently took him to the Philippines, the subject of Keith's Bare Feet in the Palace (1955), and Libya, where Keith wrote Children of Allah (1966). After retiring to Canada, Keith wrote her only novel, Beloved Exiles (1972), and a book about contemporary Japan, Before the Blossoms Fall (1975). Keith died in Canada in 1982.

From the description of Agnes Newton Keith papers, 1913-1985 (bulk 1939-1975). (University of California, Berkeley). WorldCat record id: 122593128

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Keith, Agnes Newton. Agnes Newton Keith papers, 1913-1985 (bulk 1939-1975). UC Berkeley Libraries
creatorOf McLeod, A. L. (Alan Lindsey), 1928-. Alan McLeod letters received, 1962-1989. Pennsylvania State University Libraries
referencedIn Hulme, Kathryn, 1900-1981. Kathryn Hulme papers, 1846-1981 (bulk 1945-1981). Yale University, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
creatorOf Keith, Agnes Newton. Pictorial material from the Agnes Newton Keith papers [graphic]. UC Berkeley Libraries
Role Title Holding Repository
Direct Relationships
Relation Name
associatedWith Hulme, Kathryn, 1900-1981. person
associatedWith Johnston, Don. person
associatedWith Keith, Henry G. person
associatedWith McLeod, A. L. (Alan Lindsey), 1928- person
correspondedWith Weeks, Edward, 1898-1989 person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Sandakan (Sabah)
World War, 1939-1945--Concentration camps--Pictorial works
Prisoners of war
Authors, American
World War, 1939-1945--Prisoners and prisons, Japanese--Pictorial works


Birth 1901-07-06

Death 1982-03-30





Ark ID: w60k3wq0

SNAC ID: 25778740