Restless : Assignment Abroad

In early 1931, Keyes secured William Bigelow’s support for an assignment that would take her to Europe and the Middle East. It would be the last major global trip Keyes would make on the behalf of Good Housekeeping and the endeavor was not the success Keyes had hoped for.

The trip started out well enough. Accompanied by her son Peter and Molly Gray, the daughter of Mary Gray, Keyes sailed for Paris in June with an itinerary that included stops in Norway and other Scandinavian countries, Germany, France and then the Middle East. While she was in Brittany, delayed communications from Bigelow prevented Keyes from securing the confirmation she needed to begin the second leg of her tour. Then, when she finally arrived in Beirut in November, she became seriously ill in the course of inoculations and the required medical treatment caused further delays.

Keyes then came into conflict with Bigelow about the article she planned to write about her observations of the Persian Empire. Bigelow “had conjured up a mental image of Persia, which had absolutely no relation to the place it is, but he could not be swerved from the contemplation of this image,” Keyes wrote a friend in February 1933. A keen observer of her surroundings, Keyes aimed for precision and sincerity in her work; that was the pledge she had made to herself when her first novel was published in 1919. [1]

Bigelow was unable to reconcile with Keyes on this accord; consequently, the divisive article on Persia was not published. (The article was later published in The Cunarder travel magazine.) Although Bigelow gave overall praise to Keyes for her travel articles, he made clear that her expensive trip would probably be the last one Good Housekeeping would fund. It was after this juncture that Keyes’s articles began to appear less frequently in the pages of Good Housekeeping. Her hopes for establishing the magazine’s Travel Department were never fully realized. In 1939, Keyes attempted to interest Ladies Home Journal in a similar department; that effort also failed.


1) All Flags Flying, 103.)


Related Documents