Becoming Frances : Overview


Louise Wheeler, Frances, James Wheeler, c1886.

In one of her first articles, published by the Atlantic Monthly in 1918, Frances Parkinson Keyes wrote that she found it hard to answer the question of “where are you from” because she had a “very mixed heredity” and had always lived in an “equally mixed environment.”[1] Keyes was born in Charlottesville, Virginia in 1885 but lived much of her childhood in Newbury, Vermont. School terms were spent in Boston, Massachusetts and she also frequented the home of her paternal grandparents in nearby North Woburn. After her marriage in 1904, Keyes developed a strong connection to Haverhill, New Hampshire, where she resided at her husband’s family’s home. Changes of residence vied with changing family dynamics in explaining her mixed life and many of those changes can be traced back to choices made by her mother Louise Fuller Johnson Underhill Wheeler. This essay examines Keyes’s family background and relationships, her education and friendships, and her early development as a writer.


1) FPK, “Satisfied Reflections of a Semi-Bostonian,” Atlantic Monthly, December 1918.