Gladys Edison Locke spent much of her time in her book-lined study where she would write top selling mysteries. Gladys was born in Dorchester the only child of Carolyn Edson and Scott Locke. She lived at 15 Larchmont Street (1920 and 1930 census reports) and at 33 Grampian Way. Victor A. Berch reports that an incoming vessel the SS Scythia arrived at Boston from England in August, 1924, carrying Gladys and her mother Caroline, and they were listed as living at the Larchmont Street address.
Locke wrote stories from the time she was a child. She began with fairy tales at first and later wrote plays for a theater she made out of pasteboard with paper dolls for actors. Gladys graduated from Girls Latin School. She graduated from Boston University and earned a Master’s degree in English there. She attended Simmons College in Boston, where she earned a degree in library science. While in college she wrote a few historical stories, and a biography of Queen Elizabeth.
For six years she was a tutor in Latin and Italian and French, and later became a teacher of Latin and English in the Milford, N.H., High School.
In 1917 she became a cataloger in the main branch of the Boston Public Library in Copley Square where she worked for many decades.
She was an active Unitarian Universalist and was an active member of the First Parish Church in Dorchester and of the Republican Party. She also belonged to the Boston Society for Psychic research.
She never married. She tried her hand at writing detective / mystery novels in the style of the English Country House Mystery. Locke was of English descent, loving England and feeling a close emotional and spiritual connection. The scenes of her books are often located in the British Isles, reflecting her frequent travels to England and Scotland.
Some of her published works include:
Queen Elizabeth, 1913
That Affair at Portstead Manor, 1914
Ronald o’ the Moors, 1919
The Red Cavalier, 1922
The Scarlet Macaw, 1923
The Purple Mist, 1924
The House of the Downs, 1925
The Grey Gables, 1927
The Golden Lotus, 1927
The Redmaynes, 1928
The Fenwood Murders, 1931
The Ravensdale Mystery, 1935
Interestingly two of her books, The Golden Lotus and The House on the Downs were illustrated by Dorchester artist Frank T. Merrill. Most of her books were top selling novels such as The Purple Mist and The Red Cavalier. The Red Cavalier was pronounced by the critics in 1923 as the “best mystery novel of the year.” One critic wrote “It begins as a typical English week-end house party in a haunted castle with twin turrets in Yorkshire. Miss Locke is able to weave a weird and absorbing tale of a modern detective romance.”
Termed “A Mystery Story That is Different” The Red Cavalier portrays a vision of India common in England in the 1920s, an India exhibiting subtlety and strangeness, poison and daggers, impassive faces and fierce heats of Prince Bardai and his priestly advisor contrasted with a typical English weekend house party at Twin Turrets, in Yorkshire, inevitably the setting of a mystery. And the Plot! Who is the mysterious Red Cavalier? Is he the ghost of the ancestral portrait in the library? Is he responsible for Prince Kassim’s murder? Or is it only coincidence that one of the guests at the masked ball happened to wear the costume of the Red Cavalier?
Her books were enormously successful. Her first two books were published by the Boston firm of Sherman, French. Ronald o’ the Moors was published by the Four Seas Company also in Boston. When she became popular as a writer, most of her books were published by L.C. Page and Company, a well-known publishing house in Boston in the 1920s and 30s. Some of her books were picked up by the A.L. Burt Company who re-published them in New York.
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Created: April 15, 2011 Modified: April 15, 2011