Forbes, Rosita (1893–1967)

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Forbes, Rosita (1893–1967)

English traveler and writer . Born Joan Rosita Torr in Swinderley, Lincolnshire, England, in 1893; died in 1967; daughter of Herbert J. Torr; educated privately; married Col. Ronald Forbes, around 1910 (divorced 1917); married Col. Arthur T. McGrath, in 1921.

Selected works:

Unconducted Wanderers (1919); The Sultan of the Mountains: The Life Story of Raisuli (1924); A Fool's Hell (1924); From Red Sea to Blue Nile (1925); If the Gods Laugh (1925); Sirocco (1927); Adventure (1928); King's Mate (1928); One Flesh (1930); Conflict: Angora to Afghanistan (1931); Ordinary People (1931); The Secret of the Sahara! Kufara (1931); Eight Republicans in Search of a Future (1933); Women Called Wild (1935); Forbidden Road: Kabul to Samarkand (1937); These Are Real People (1937); India of the Princes (1939); A Unicorn in the Bahamas (1940); These Men I Knew (1940).

Born in Lincolnshire, England, in 1893, and consumed by maps at an early age, Rosita Forbes traversed the world several times during her lifetime, turning out novels and nonfiction based on her experiences. She began her phenomenal career in 1915, driving an ambulance for the French Societé de Secours aux Blessés Militaires and winning two medals for valor. Her travels took her to every country in the world with the exception of Tibet and New Zealand, and on one of her trips around the world, she covered 30 countries in 13 months. Her adventures included an attempted pilgrimage to Mecca disguised as an Arab; a journey to the Atlas Mountains to write the life of Ahmed Raisuli, a Moroccan brigand and kidnapper, and a 14,000-mile trip around Central and South America, flying her own plane.

Forbes' first book Unconducted Wanderers (1919) was a chronicle of a trip to the Far East with a woman friend. Later books were the results of her visits to remote areas of the world, where she liked to live among the people. Her narratives unite a firm grasp of international politics with a gift for racy, exhilarating writing; her stories about real people and events are considered by some to be more interesting and romantic than her novels. In two of her later books, These are Real People (1937) and These Men I Knew (1940), Forbes described some of the many people she had met. She also enjoyed speaking about her travels. In 1924, she crossed the United States, giving 88 lectures in 91 days. In 1940, in Canada, she gave 64 lectures and 9 broadcasts under the auspices of the National Council of Education.

Forbes, described as a slender, almost frail-looking woman, was married twice, although neither marriage curbed her wanderlust. She wrote under the name of her first husband, Colonel Ronald Forbes, whom she married around 1910, age 17, and divorced in 1917. Her second husband, Colonel Arthur T. McGrath, was with the British War Office. In her later years, Forbes lived and worked in the Bahamas. She died in 1967.