W. J. Locke

(1863—1930) novelist

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(1863–1930) married (1911) Aimée Maxwell Heath. Born at Demerara, British Guiana, of English parents, Locke was the son of a banker in Barbados. In 1864 the family went to Trinidad, and Locke was educated at Queen's Royal College there and at St John's College, Cambridge (1881–4), where he read mathematics. He became a schoolmaster at Glenalmond (1891–1897), which he disliked, and then Secretary to the Royal Institute of British Architects (1897–1907), which had decided to appoint a layman who would be unhampered by professional associations. He published novels from 1895 but The Morals of Marcus Ordeyne (1905), his ninth, drawing partly on his Glenalmond experience, was successful enough to allow him to give up his job. As well as producing novels, sometimes two a year, including The Beloved Vagabond (1907), he wrote plays and dramatizations of his own fiction, which were lucrative. His method of writing was to settle down at his desk at 9 p.m. and write up to 800 words, not more. After the First World War his health broke down, partly as a result of his exertions on behalf of convalescent private soldiers and Belgian refugees, and he retired to Cannes, where he died of tuberculosis which had been diagnosed as early as 1890. An appreciation in the Times (19 May 1930) notes: ‘He specialised in a line of delightfully improbable heroes—children of nature, flamboyant or grotesque but never commonplace, tender and headstrong but always lovable, among whom we particularly recall Pujol.’ The Joyous Adventures of Aristide Pujol (1912) is a facetious comedy about a Provençal adventurer.

From The Oxford Companion to Edwardian Fiction in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Literature.

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