Image of William John Locke


Lifetime: 1863 - 1930 Passed: ≈ 94 years ago


Novelist, Playwright


United Kingdom

William John Locke

William John Locke was a British novelist, dramatist and playwright, best known for his short stories.

He was born in Cunningsbury St George, Christ Church, Demerara, British Guiana on 20 March 1863, the eldest son of John Locke, bank manager of Barbados, and his first wife, Sarah Elizabeth Locke (née Johns). His parents were English. In 1864 his family moved to Trinidad and Tobago. In 1865, a second son was born, Charlie Alfred Locke, who was eventually to become a doctor. Charlie Locke died in 1904 aged 39. His half-sister, Anna Alexandra Hyde (née Locke), by his father's second marriage, died in 1898 in childbirth aged 25.

At the age of three, Locke was sent to England for further education. He remained in England for nine years, before returning to Trinidad to attend prep school with his brother at Queen's Royal College. There, he won an exhibition to enter St John's College, Cambridge. He returned to England in 1881 to attend Cambridge University, where he graduated with honours in Mathematics in 1884, despite his dislike of that "utterly futile and inhuman subject".

After leaving Cambridge, Locke became a schoolmaster. He disliked teaching, but is known to have been a master at the Oxford Military College at Temple Cowley, in 1889 and 1890, and at Clifton College, Bristol in 1890; from 1891 to 1897 he was modern languages master at Trinity College, Glenalmond. In 1893 he published a school edition of Murat, an extract from the Celebrated Crimes (Les crimes célèbres) of Alexandre Dumas père. In 1890 he became seriously ill with tuberculosis, which affected him for the rest of his life. From 1897 to 1907 he was secretary of the Royal Institute of British Architects and lived in London.

In 1894 he published his first novel, At the Gate of Samaria, but he did not achieve real success for another decade, with The Morals of Marcus Ordeyne (1905) and The Beloved Vagabond (1906). Chambers Biographical Dictionary wrote of his "long series of novels and plays which with their charmingly written sentimental themes had such a success during his life in both Britain and America.... His plays, some of which were dramatised versions of his novels, were all produced with success on the London Stage" (p. 836).

On 19 May 1911, Locke married Aimee Maxwell Close (née Heath), the divorced wife of Percy Hamilton Close, in Chelsea in London. The wedding was attended by Alice Baines and James Douglas.

Five times Locke's books made the list of best-selling novels in the United States for the year. His works have been made into 24 motion pictures the most recent of which was Ladies in Lavender, filmed in 2004 and starring Dame Judi Dench and Maggie Smith. Adapted to the screen by Charles Dance, it was based on Locke's 1916 short story of the same title that had been published in a collection entitled "Faraway Stories." Probably the most famous of Locke's books adapted to the screen was the 1918 production of Stella Maris starring Mary Pickford. In addition, four of his books were made into Broadway plays, two of which Locke wrote and were produced by Charles Frohman.

Locke died of cancer at 67 rue Desbordes-Valmore, Paris, France, on 15 May 1930.

Books by William John Locke

The Morals of Marcus Ordeyne Cover image

The Morals of Marcus Ordeyne

Fiction Novel
Money Scholars

Marcus Ordeyne is a middle aged bachelor schoolmaster who has inherited both money and a title and thus is able to lead a life of leisure. One day, he encounters a young girl in a London park who has escaped from a Turkish harem and has come to Londo...

The Glory of Clementina Wing Cover image

The Glory of Clementina Wing

Fiction Drama
Social Adventure Historical Fiction Glory Life

The book follows the adventures of two main characters - Clementina Wing, a talented artist in her mid 30's with no social graces and Ephraim Quixtus, an older bookish gentleman whose quiet life is abruptly changed for the worse one day. Although the...

The Tale of Triona Cover image

The Tale of Triona

Love Young Romance Society Journey Discovery Relationships Imagination

It tells the story of a young woman's journey of self-discovery and romance. The book was first published in 1922 and has since become a beloved work of fiction. The novel follows the titular character, Triona, as she navigates the challenges of lov...

The House of Baltazar Cover image

The House of Baltazar

Love Young Realism Nature Loyalty political Desire Relationships Communism

It is a tale of love, family, and duty set in the exotic backdrop of Guatemala, Central America. The story revolves around the life of a young man, Denis Burke, who inherits a coffee plantation and falls in love with the beautiful daughter of his bu...

The White Dove Cover image

The White Dove

Love Morality Redemption Village Sacrifice Self-Discovery Emotion Relationships Experiences

This is a compelling novel that weaves together themes of love, sacrifice, and the pursuit of happiness. Originally published in [1899], this timeless story continues to resonate with readers across generations. Set against the backdrop of a small E...

Jaffery Cover image


Romance Non-Fiction Psychology
Redemption Passion Desire Relationships Resilience Secret Consequences Loyality Intriguing Classic Literature

Amidst the clandestine affairs of global espionage, a mysterious figure emerges from the shadows. Jaffery, a man of unparalleled skill and wit, possesses a secret that could tip the scales of power. But in a world of treachery and deception, where no...

The Wonderful Year Cover image

The Wonderful Year

Romance Fiction Novel
Love Personal Enhancement Mystery Happiness Passion Desire Relationships Intriguing Longing

A single year holds the promise of extraordinary transformations and heart-stirring discoveries. This captivating novel takes readers on a thrilling journey filled with mystery, romance, and the timeless pursuit of happiness. As the pages turn, the...

Septimus Cover image


Fiction Novel
Intelligence Village Suspense Madness Dark Romanticism Sanity Psychological

A mysterious stranger arrives in a small village, and soon the residents are questioning their own sanity. Septimus is a psychological thriller by William John Locke, first published in 1895. The novel tells the story of Septimus, a mysterious stran...

Stella Maris Cover image

Stella Maris

Fiction History
Family Drama Redemption Romance Art Society Orphans Compassion

In the enchanting world of "Stella Maris" by William John Locke, love, art, and the healing power of redemption converge in a tale that will tug at your heartstrings and stir your soul. Imagine a life interrupted by a cruel twist of fate—John Risca,...

Red Planet Cover image

Red Planet

Set during WWI in England, The Red Planet is a rich tale about the life in a little English town from the point of view of Major Duncan Meredyth, a disabled veteran of the Boer Wars. As he struggles to keep his life and the lives of those he cares fo...

Fortunate Youth Cover image

Fortunate Youth

Paul is a poor boy who grew up in London, in the household of his mother and stepfather. His journey to greatness is the subject of our story. But his desired success comes at a very high price. (Summary by Stav Nisser)

Simon the Jester Cover image

Simon the Jester

Simon de Gex, a wealthy and successful MP, is diagnosed with a terminal illness and decides to use his last few months using his wealth and influence to do good. In particular, he determines to guide his protégé and friend, Dale, away from an unfortu...

Joyous Adventures of Aristide Pujol Cover image

Joyous Adventures of Aristide Pujol

This 1912 collection of short stories is of lighthearted adventures of an irresponsible -- and irrepressible -- Frenchman in England and Paris. The author (1863-1930) was a popular British novelist, dramatist, and playwright, known especially for his...

Rough Road Cover image

Rough Road

The book tells the story of "Doggie" Trevor, who, having been wrapped in cotton wool since babyhood, becomes a snobbish rich dilettante. All this changes as World War I begins and Doggie takes a commission in the Army – with near disastrous results....

Mountebank Cover image


Andrew Lackaday, an English orphan, was born and brought up in a French circus. He becomes a highly skilled mimic and juggler. He plies his trade all round the country in company with his assistant Elodie, a Marseillaise. The Great War comes and he e...

Where Love Is Cover image

Where Love Is

Norma Hardacre is a member of smart London society. She finds herself irresistibly drawn to a penniless artist named Jimmie Padgate. However, she gets engaged to Morland King, a wealthy man who sees her as a convenient trophy wife as he furthers his...

Viviette Cover image


Viviette is a headstrong young girl who is pursued by two brothers: Austin, a headstrong man of the world and a barrister in London, and Dick, who is much quieter and who has remained at the family home to look after the estate and his mother. This...

Idols Cover image


The novel centres around four people: Gerard and Irene Merriam, their inseparable friend Hugh Colman who once saved Gerard’s life, and Minna, a Jewess. Minna throws common sense and caution to the winds in order to ensure her inheritance and the live...

At the Gate of Samaria Cover image

At the Gate of Samaria

The novel is set in the 1890’s. Clytie Davenant is a headstrong young woman who escapes from the stultifying country life of her family to move to London and work as an artist. There she shares a studio off the King’s Road and enjoys the bohemian soc...

Study in Shadows Cover image

Study in Shadows

Among the mixture of people spending the summer in a pension (boarding house) in Geneva are Felicia, a 20-year-old, and Katherine (30) who become good friends. Another person in the pension is Mr. Chetwynd, an elderly gentleman, whose handsome son Ra...