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Helena Sumner Locke (1881–1917)

[Helena] Sumner Locke, the well-known Australian novelist, passed away yesterday morning in a private hospital at Kogarah after giving birth to a son, and the event will be learned with widespread regret. Early this year, whilst rehearsing her rustic farcical comedy, "Mum Dawson, Boss," with Mr. Bert Bailey, at the Criterion Theatre, she laughingly remarked that she had but two ambitions in life—to produce a play and to produce a son. Her heart's desire was realised with her last breath. The pathos of her unexpected end is increased by the fact that her husband, Sergeant L. Elliott, A.I.F., is at the front.

Sumner Locke was the daughter of a Church of England minister, who named her after Archbishop Sumner, and she was born in Queensland. Though slight and small of figure, her mental energy was extraordinary, so that quite early in life she made a name as a journalist, and by her success with her humorous bush story, ''Skeeter Farm." During her brief career she visited London, and on the way from the railway terminus to her lodgings read an advertisement offering a large money prize for an original story. She wrote it during the same day, sent it in, and carried off the prize! Another of her remarkable feats was the writing of a rustic American novel, "Samaritan Mary," which was accepted and published in the United States, where it enjoyed a remarkable success, before ever she had set foot in the country. The young authoress not only possessed imagination, as illustrated by the above achievement, but wrote with amazing facility, and had 0ther novels ready for publication when she visited New York a few months ago. Finding that the Atlantic was a closed route, she relinquished her intention of revisiting London, where she had made many literary friends, and returned to Sydney last August. This brilliant woman has brothers at the front, sisters in London and Victoria, and a sister, Mrs. G. M. Burns, wife of the former M.P. for Illawarra, in Sydney.

Original publication

Additional Resources

Citation details

'Locke, Helena Sumner (1881–1917)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 15 April 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Elliott, Helena Sumner

4 July, 1881
Sandgate, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia


18 October, 1917 (aged 36)
Kogarah, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death

childbirth complications

Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.