Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Mary Fauriel (Mary) Lockett (1911–1982)

by Wendy Birman

This article was published:

Mary Fauriel Lockett (1911-1982), pharmacologist, was born on 17 March 1911 at Weaste, Manchester, England, daughter of Rev. Harry Duncan Lockett, vicar, and his wife Mary, née Hicks.  Educated at Cheltenham Ladies’ College, the London (Royal Free Hospital) School of Medicine for Women (MB, BS, 1935) and the University of London (MD, 1936), Mary was admitted as a member of the Royal College of Physicians, London, in 1937.  She worked for the Church Missionary Society in Egypt, as a pathologist and radiologist, until 1940 when severe bouts of dengue fever and amoebic dysentery obliged her to return to England, where hypoplastic anaemia was also diagnosed.  As a Beit research fellow in 1944-46 she studied pharmacology at Newnham College, Cambridge (Ph.D., 1946).  She lectured in pharmacology at University College, London, in 1945-50 and at the University of Glasgow, Scotland, in 1950.  In 1952-62 she was head of the department of physiology and pharmacology, Chelsea Polytechnic (from 1957 Chelsea College of Science and Technology), and in 1962-63 was senior research fellow at the University of Birmingham and honorary reader at Chelsea.

Appointed (1963) Wellcome Foundation research professor of pharmacology at the University of Western Australia, Lockett was the first woman to hold a chair at that university.  Setting up a new department was a particularly demanding task as the professional male 'conclave' gave her little support.  She conscientiously complied with the Wellcome Foundation’s terms and conditions and soon attracted substantial research funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council (Australia) and the National Heart Foundation of Australia.  Her research interests extended to cardiology, nephrology, endocrinology and physiology.  While working on the heart-lung-kidney perfusion model she identified a previously unknown steroid in cholesterol associated with heart disease.  She also investigated the origin and treatment of oedema, especially the use of diuretics.  In all, she contributed 185 papers to international scientific journals.  She collaborated in experimental work with researchers of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and was a consultant to scientific institutes.

Lockett was in demand as a speaker at congresses and other international and national forums.  By 1969 an arduous travelling schedule, in addition to her heavy teaching load and committee responsibilities had exhausted her.  The vice-chancellor, Sir Stanley Prescott, granted her permission to spend her study leave in 1971 in Perth.

Elected a fellow of the Royal Australian College of Physicians in 1973, Lockett was forced to retire that year because of ill health and was appointed emeritus professor.  She took up gardening and, joining William Boissevain’s painting group, produced a sizable art portfolio.  Small and slim, and quiet and unassuming, she was an active parishioner at Christ Church, Claremont, and was said to be an admirable neighbour.  Never married, she died on 5 January 1982 at Nedlands and was cremated with Anglican rites.  She is commemorated by a plaque on the wall of the pharmacology building at the University of Western Australia.

Select Bibliography

  • F. Alexander, Campus at Crawley, 1963
  • J. C. Wiseman and R. J. Mulhearn (eds), Roll of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, vol 2, 1976-1990, 1994
  • West Australian, 25 November 1975, p 7
  • West Australian, 9 January 1982, p 27
  • Uniview (University of Western Australia), February 1982, p 9
  • Lockett papers (University of Western Australia Archives)

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Wendy Birman, 'Lockett, Mary Fauriel (Mary) (1911–1982)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2012, accessed online 18 July 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 18, (Melbourne University Press), 2012

View the front pages for Volume 18

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


17 March, 1911
Manchester, Greater Manchester, England


5 January, 1982 (aged 70)
Nedlands, Perth, Western Australia, Australia

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