Sir Harry Charles Luke was born in 1884 in London, England. He was educated at Eton, and Trinity College, Oxford (he became an honorary fellow of the College in 1952). Luke's first official appointment was as Private Secretary (1908) and Aide-de-Camp (1909) to the Governor of Sierra Leone. In 1911 he served in the same capacity in Barbados, except for a period during May-July when he was attached to the Colonial Office. In October 1911 Luke was transferred to Cyprus where he held the posts of Private Secretary to the High Commissioner, Assistant Secretary to the Government (1912), and Commissioner of Famagusta (1918). From 1909 to 1911 Luke was also second lieutenant in the London Yeomanry.
During World War I, Luke served as Commander of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve on the Syrian Coast, and as a Political Officer on the staff of Admiral Sir Rosslyn Wemyss; for his services he was awarded the Italian medal for military valour. In 1919 Luke was appointed Political Officer to the Admiral of the Fleet, Sir J. de Robeck.
In 1920 Luke spent 6 months serving as British Chief Commissioner in Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan (April-September 1920) before being appointed Assistant Governor of Jerusalem (1920-1924). During this period he also served as a Commissioner inquiring into the Jaffa Riots and into the affairs of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem (1921).
After appointments as Colonial Secretary of Sierra Leone (1924-1928), Chief Secretary of Palestine (1928-1930) and Lieutenant-Governor of Malta (1930-1938) Luke's last official post was as Governor of Fiji and High Commissioner for the Western Pacific (1938-1942). On his retirement from the Colonial Service, in 1943, Luke was for three years Chief Representative of the British Council in the Caribbean.
Luke was appointed CMG in 1926 and created a Knight in 1933 and a KCMG in 1939. He was a D.Litt. of Oxford (1938) and an honorary LLD of Malta. He also published many books, chiefly about the Middle East and the Pacific. Luke died in Cyprus on the 11 May 1969.