Agnes Newton Keith (July 4, 1901 ? March 30, 1982) was an American author best known for her three autobiographical accounts of life in North Borneo (now Sabah) before, during, and after the Second World War. The second of these, Three Came Home, tells of her time in Japanese POW and civilian internee camps in North Borneo and Sarawak, and was made into a film of the same name in 1950. She published seven books in all.Sabah, Borneo

Getty Images/Lonely Planet Images

Agnes Keith House


This atmospheric two-storey colonial villa, Newlands, tells the story of American writer Agnes Keith and her British husband Harry, the Conservator of Forests in North Borneo. They lived in Sandakan from 1934 to 1952 and spent three years in Japanese internment camps during WWII. The house was immortalised by Keith in her award-winning, funny and engaging portrayal of colonial life in Land Below the Wind. To get here, take the Tangga Seribu (100 Steps) to Jln Istana.

This is the second incarnation of their abode, with the original destroyed during the war. Newlands has been immaculately restored, its polished wooden floors gleaming and period furniture in place. Photos of the family and of Sandakan in the 1930s and artefacts such as brass gongs, Chinese stoneware jars, Penan blowpipes and woven Murut backpacks add to the atmosphere.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Sandakan attractions

1. Sandakan Heritage Museum

0.15 MILES

This small museum near the beginning of the Heritage Walk is a bit neglected but worth a look for the old photos and memorabilia of Sandakan's tumultuous…

2. Sam Sing Kung

0.18 MILES

The Sam Sing Kung temple (also pronounced 'Sam Sing Gong') dates from 1887, making it the oldest building in Sandakan. The temple itself is a smallish, if…

3. Malaysia Fountain

0.23 MILES

The fountain commemorates the independence of Sabah on 16 September 1963 with the departure of the last Governor of British North Borneo.

4. St Michael's & All Angels Church

0.28 MILES

One of the very few surviving pre-WWII buildings, this pretty stone church (1893) sits as a relic of colonial times and a monument to Christian worship on…

5. Chinese Cemetery

0.39 MILES

Sandakan's Chinese Cemetery is huge. As you wander along the cemetery, you'll notice the graves become older and more decrepit – many have been claimed by…

6. Japanese Cemetery

0.57 MILES

A poignant piece of Sandakan's ethnic puzzle, this cemetery was founded in the 1890s by Kinoshita Kuni, known as the successful madam-manager of Sandakan…

7. Kampong Buli Sim Sim

1.24 MILES

This traditional Malay stilt village, located about 3km east of the city centre, is the original settlement Sandakan grew from back in 1879. It's still an…

8. Puu Jih Syh Temple


Wrapped in the usual firework display of reds, golds and twining dragons, festooned with lanterns illuminating the grounds like a swarm of fireflies, this…