Locke, Sumner (1881–1917)

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Locke, Sumner (1881–1917)

Australian playwright and novelist. Name variations: Sumner Locke Elliott. Born Helena Sumner Locke in Sandgate, Brisbane, Australia, in 1881; died in Sydney, Australia, on October 18, 1917; married Henry Logan Elliott (a journalist), in 1916 or 1917; children: Sumner Locke Elliott (an actor, novelist, and playwright).

Although Sumner Locke enjoyed some success as a playwright (her The Vicissitudes of Vivienne was produced in Melbourne in 1908), she was better known for her popular "Mum Dawson" books, Mum Dawson, Boss (1911) and The Dawsons' Uncle George (1912). In both novels, Mum presides over a family of provincials who are caught up in a humorous succession of misadventures. Locke's last novel, Samaritan Mary (1916), was set in America, where she lived for a period during World War I.

In 1916 or 1917, Locke married journalist Henry Logan Elliott, who went off to war ten days after their wedding. Sumner Locke died in childbirth nine months later. The couple's son, Sumner Locke Elliott, was raised by an impoverished aunt and uncle until a wealthy aunt from England appeared to claim him, provoking a six-year court battle. He later recalled the sad events of his childhood in his first novel, Careful, He Might Hear You (1963), which was adapted into an award-winning film by the same name in 1984.


Contemporary Authors. New Revision Series. Volume 21. Detroit, MI: Gale Research.

related media:

Careful, He Might Hear You (film), starring Wendy Hughes , Robyn Nevin, and Nicholas Gledhill, screenplay by Michael Jenkins, directed by Carl Schultz, produced by Jill Robb , Syme International Productions, 1984.