Born in Bangalore, India March 26, 1929, India, Lake received a Jesuit education at St. Xavier's School in Calcutta (1940-44). He was originally a citizen of the United Kingdom, where he studied at Trinity College, Cambridge, receiving his Bachelor of Arts in 1952, and his Master of Arts in 1956. He went on to study at University College of North Wales, where he was awarded a diploma in linguistics in 1965, and studied at the University of Queensland (Ph.D., 1974). He became a naturalized Australian citizen in 1975.
He began his writing career as a literary critic, and in that vein he is known for his books Style and Meaning, Queensland University Press, 1971, and The Canon of Thomas Middleton's Plays, Cambridge University Press, 1975.
After arriving in Australia, Lake published poetry in magazines such as Westerly, Southerly, and Makar. In 1971 he published Portnoyad and in 1973 the poetry collection, Hornpipes and Funerals. He began writing science fiction in 1976. He might be best known for a sequence of books, which take a critical stance to the Barsoom novels. John Clute indicates Jungian psychology influences on some of his works. His most known work outside of that sequence is The Man who Loved Morlocks from 1981. As indicated the story is a kind of sequel to The Time Machine He has been essentially inactive in the genre since 1989 with the exception of one award-winning short story. That story, The Truth About Weena, also involved the Time Machine. It won the Ditmar Award in 1999.