Carlton Dawe was born in Adelaide and moved to Melbourne with his parents in about 1880. He settled permanently in England in 1892 but travelled extensively, apparently both before and after that date. He published three volumes of verse and two works of fiction before moving to England, his poetry and his first novel being published under the name William Dawe. His poetry had not won him much acclaim but he went on to become a prolific and successful writer of popular romance, adventure and crime fiction, publishing more than seventy books in forty years. It would appear that he lived for a while in the East, as Asian settings and characters appear in many of his books. He also wrote several plays, two of which, 'The Black Spider' and 'The Shadow of Evil', were made into films.
Dawe's early novels set in Australia are The Golden Lake (1891), Mount Desolation (1892), The History of Godfrey Kinge (1893), The Emu's Head (1893), The Pilgrims (1894) and Confessions of a Currency Girl (1894), but a number of his later works also contain Australian characters and incidents.