Frame left New Zealand in late 1956, and the next seven years were most prolific in terms of publication. She lived and worked in Europe, primarily based in London, with brief sojourns to Ibiza and Andorra. However, Frame was still struggling with anxiety and depression. She admitted herself to the Maudsley in London. American-trained psychiatrist Alan Miller, who studied under John Money at Johns Hopkins University, proposed that she had never suffered from schizophrenia. In an effort to alleviate the ill effects of her years spent in and out of psychiatric hospitals, Frame then began regular therapy sessions with psychoanalyst Robert Hugh Cawley, who encouraged her to pursue her writing. Frame would eventually dedicate seven of her novels to Cawley.
Frame returned to New Zealand in 1963. She accepted the Burns Fellowship at the University of Otago in 1965. She later lived in several parts of New Zealand’s North Island, including Auckland, Taranaki, Wanganui, the Horowhenua, Palmerston North, Waiheke, Stratford, Browns Bay and Levin.
During this period Frame traveled extensively, occasionally to Europe, but principally to the United States, where she accepted residencies at the MacDowell and Yaddo artists’ colonies. Partly as a result of these extended stays in the U.S., Frame developed close relationships with several Americans. These included the painter Theophilus Brown (whom she later referred to as “the chief experience of my life”) and his long-time partner Paul John Wonner, the poet May Sarton, John Phillips Marquand and Alan Lelchuck. Frame’s one-time university tutor/counsellor and longtime friend John Money worked in North America from 1947 onwards, and Frame frequently based herself at his home in Baltimore.
In the 1980s Frame authored three volumes of autobiography (To the Is-land, An Angel at my Table and The Envoy from Mirror City) which collectively traced the course of her life to her return to New Zealand in 1963. Director Jane Campion and screenwriter Laura Jones adapted the trilogy for television broadcast. It was eventually released as an award-winning feature film, An Angel at My Table. Actresses Kerry Fox, Alexia Keogh and Karen Fergusson portrayed the author at various ages. Frame’s autobiographies sold better than any of her previous publications, and Campion’s successful film adaptation of the texts introduced a new generation of readers to her work. These successes increasingly pushed Frame into the public eye.Frame intended the autobiographies to “set the record straight” regarding her past and in particular her mental status. However, critical and public speculation has continued to focus on her mental health. In 2007, after Frame’s death, The New Zealand Medical Journal published an article by a medical specialist who proposed that Frame may be on the autism spectrum, a suggestion that was disputed by the author’s literary executor