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Sumner Locke Elliott Sumner Locke Elliott i(A56794 works by) (a.k.a. Sumner Locke Elliott; Sumner Locke-Elliott)
Born: Established: 17 Oct 1917 Sydney, New South Wales, ; Died: Ceased: 23 Jun 1991 New York (City), New York (State),
United States of America (USA),

Gender: Male
Expatriate assertion Departed from Australia: Jul 1948
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A highly regarded author and playwright, Sumner Locke Elliott was the son of the writer Sumner Locke and the freelance journalist Henry Logan Elliott. The day after his birth Locke Elliott's mother died, leaving her son to be raised by several aunts. The situation resulted in a fierce custody battle which was only resolved when he was about ten years old. The impact of this childhood experience was to later resurface in the author's writing, particularly in his most 'overtly autobiographical' novel, Careful, He Might Hear You .

In 1934, then aged 13, Locke Elliott began what was to become a 12 years association with George Edwards and Nell Stirling of George Edwards Productions. Initially paid £7.50 a week, he played juvenile roles in their various radio productions, while also undertaking odd jobs such as running errands and marking up scripts. He eventually helped write some of the scripts for their children's programme, David and Dawn ('Man with 1,000 Voices'. After leaving school he established his credentials within the broader radio and theatre industries as a writer, actor and director 'in the traditions of Noel Coward and the fashionable drama of the 1930s' (ctd Companion to Theatre in Australia, p.202). He also became a member of Sydney's Independent Theatre, where seven of his early plays were produced.

Serving with the Australian Army during Word War II, Locke Elliott's war time experiences are detailed in the play Rusty Bugles; first performed in 1948, the play was originally banned because of its realistic portrayal of army life in Australia's northern frontier.

In 1948 Locke Elliott emigrated to the United States where he was to remain for most of his adult life. He settled in New York, eventually became an American citizen in 1955, and apart from one brief visit did not return to Australia for any length of time until 1974. Working for both CBS and NBC, he gained prominence [developing a career] writing dramas for American television, producing more than fifty screenplays for this medium. Sumner Locke Elliot's American screen writing career included the famous adaptations of stage plays The Women by Clare Booth Luce and J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan as well as the novel The Prisoner of Zenda.

Locke Elliott was a prodigious writer with an output which far exceeded his reputation as a novelist. His ten novels (six of which contain Australian settings/content) nevertheless provide the core of his published oeuvre, and particularly for 'Australian readers', the 'outstanding feature' of many of these works 'is the re-creation of the distinctive flavour of the national life of the 1930s and 1940s'. Following his death in 1991, the Sydney Morning Herald paid tribute to this aspect of Locke Elliott's, noting that that even 'after taking American citizenship he remained one of the supreme expatriates of his generation, writing of his old country through memory and from a great distance.'

Most Referenced Works


  • Untraced Works

    Because early television is something of a transient medium, some of the stand-alone episodes/telemovies with which Locke Elliott's name is associated cannot be traced. These are listed below:

    'The Trap', Studio One (anthology series), CBS, 1950.

    Listed in some sources as an adaptation penned by Locke Elliott, but this episode itself cannot be confirmed (and therefore neither can authorship).

    'Old Jim's Second Woman', The Web (anthology series), CBS, 1951.

    Sometimes given as 'Old Jim's Second Woman'. Aired in July 1951, but cannot be confirmed as Locke Elliott's work at this stage.

    'The Rose Garden', Suspense (anthology series), C.B.S., 1951.

    Some sources list this as an adaptation by Sumner Locke Elliott from an untraced source. Some list it as an adaptation by Antony Ellis of an untraced short story by Sumner Locke Elliott. The details have so far not been confirmed.

Personal Awards

Awards for Works

y separately published work icon Careful, He Might Hear You London : Gollancz , 1963 Z256618 1963 single work novel (taught in 2 units)
— Appears in: Reader's Digest Condensed Books : Volume One, 1964, Winter Selections 1963;

'It’s the Great Depression. Six-year-old PS is an orphan. He lives in Sydney with his Aunt Lila. But all that is about to change. Now his Aunt Vanessa has decided to take proper care of him.

'Careful, He Might Hear You is one of the most extraordinary portraits of childhood in Australian fiction.' (Publication summary : Text Classics)

1963 winner Miles Franklin Literary Award

Known archival holdings

Albinski 59
Last amended 29 Oct 2015 10:58:55
See Also
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