Carlton Dawe

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William Carlton Lanyon Dawe, generally known as Carlton Dawe (30 July 1865 – 30 May 1935), was a prolific Australian author of over 70 books including romance, mystery and crime.[1]


William was born in Moonta, South Australia in 1865 to Henry Dawe and Francis Lanyon.[2] Dawe was born in Adelaide and came from an old Cornish family.[3] He grew up with his sister, Gwendoline Lanyon Dawe.[4] Dawe came to Melbourne with his parents around 1880. In 1885, he published in Sydonia and other Poems in London, beginning a trend of publishing novels in both this city and his local Melbourne. In 1886 Love and the World and other Poems was published in Melbourne. As these poems were possibly considered no more than average quality, they did not suggest any particular promise. These two volumes of poetry gave rise to Dawe's writing career.

In the same year in Melbourne, Dawe published his first attempt at fiction, a novel entitled Zantha. Four years later, another volume of poetry, Sketches in Verse (1889) was published in London. Both Zantha and the poetry book were published under his given name, William Dawe. After that, the author began publishing under his more well known name, Carlton Dawe.[5] Dawe began by writing poetry and fiction, then morphed it into thrillers and romances by the end of his career as a writer.[6]

While in Hong Kong, Dawe was initiated into the Masonic order at the Zetland Lodge on 16 February 1887 at the age of 23.[7] Still operational, the lodge is now known as the Zetland Hall.

It is unclear whether or not Dawe was married or had any children. The 1901 England Census records the "author" as residing in Battersea in a house with his unmarried sister Gwendolen, Helen C. Crough (possibly his landlady), her teenage son Charles, and a servant, Alice Warren.[8] He appears to have lived for several decades at 2A Flat C Wetherby Terrace, in London.[9] In 1935, Dawe died in Middlesex, England in 1935, leaving £13 to his unmarried sister, Gwendoline through his will.[4]


Dawe's experiences of growing up in Australia influence many of his novels and essays. A later novel, The Golden Lake (1891), has been described as a Lemurian novel and is an adventure story based on the search for a cave of gold in Australia. The Emu's Head (1893) is about the violence in Australian gold mines.[3]

Other of his fictional works are strongly influenced by his adventures in the Far East. Dawe was a lifelong traveller, journeying around the world more than once and living for a time in Asia, before settling permanently in England from 1892 onwards.[3] His work often examined the difficulties of a white man's settlement in the Far East, and his earlier short stories anticipate Joseph Conrad and Somerset Maugham.[3]

Dawe also wrote many stories about the problems of colonial civil servants faced when pursuing interracial marriage, as these were issues he witnessed first hand while traveling.[6] Yellow and White (1895) and Kakemonos (1897), are collections of short stories and notes along this line and gave straightforward accounts of interracial sex ("the love of the white for the yellow").[3] Yellow Man (1900) is a thriller involving Chinese secret societies.[3]

In total, Dawe published 74 novels between 1890 and 1936.[6] Additionally, he wrote a few plays; The Black Spider was produced in London in 1927. Towards the end of his life, Dawe also had two plays filmed, The Black Spider (US: Foolish Monte Carlo) in 1920 and The Shadow of Evil in 1921.


Dawe published more than seventy-seven books during his life covering romance, mystery and crime.[10][11]


  1. ^ Serle, Percival (1949). "Dawe, William Carlton Lanyon". Dictionary of Australian Biography. Retrieved 28 November 2018 – via Project Gutenberg Australia.
  2. ^ Australia, Birth Index, 1788–1922 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, US: Operations, Inc., 2010.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Sutherland, John (1990) [1989]. "Dawe, Carlton". The Stanford Companion to Victorian Literature. Stanford University Press. p. 175. ISBN 978-0804718424.
  4. ^ a b "Norbury, Sir Henry Frederick Oswald, (27 July 1880–15 Dec. 1948), Registrar Probate, Divorce, and Admiralty Division, High Court of Justice, 1923–35, Senior Registrar of Principal Probate Registry since 1935", Who Was Who, Oxford University Press, 1 December 2007, doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.u229846
  5. ^ "Carlton Dawe: (author/organisation) | AustLit: Discover Australian Stories". Retrieved 20 February 2019.
  6. ^ a b c Kemp, Sandra; Mitchell, Charlotte; Trotter, David (1997). "Dawe, Carlton". Edwardian Fiction: An Oxford Companion. Oxford University Press. pp. 90–91. doi:10.1093/acref/9780198117605.001.0001. ISBN 978-0198117605.
  7. ^ Library and Museum of Freemasonry; London, England; Freemasonry Membership Registers; Description: Register of Contributions: Country and Foreign Lodges, 720–847 (1832); 490–581 (1863). England, United Grand Lodge of England Freemason Membership Registers, 1751–1921 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, US: Operations, Inc., 2015.
  8. ^ Class: RG13; Piece: 442; Folio: 97; Page: 6. Census Returns of England and Wales, 1901. Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives, 1901. 1901 England Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, US: Operations Inc, 2005.
  9. ^ London Metropolitan Archives; London, England; London City Directories. London, England, City Directories, 1736–1943 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, US: Operations, Inc., 2018.
  10. ^ As recorded in the British Museum Catalogue of Printed Books (1965–66)
  11. ^ Miller, E. Morris (1973). "Dawe, William Carlton Lanyon". Australian Literature from its Beginnings to 1935. Sydney University Press. pp. 628–629.

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