CLARKE, Marcus Andrew Hislop (1846-1881)

CLARKE, Marcus Andrew Hislop (1846-1881)
always known as Marcus Clarke
novelist and miscellaneous writer
was born at Kensington, London, on 24 April 1846. His father, William Hislop Clarke, was a barrister, his mother died before he was a year old. Clarke was educated at a private school kept by Dr Dyne at Highgate, where he spent most of his time in reading. He was early initiated into the Bohemian life of the period by visitors to his home, but his father died when the boy was 16, leaving only a few hundred pounds, though he had apparently been in prosperous circumstances. Clarke's uncle, James Langton Clarke, who was a county court judge at Melbourne, suggested he should try his fortune there. He arrived on 7 June 1863 and obtained a position in the Bank of Australasia, but was found to be quite unfitted for that kind of work. In 1865 he was on a station near Glenorchy where he remained for two years and began writing sketches for the magazines. Early in 1867 a Dr Robert Lewins visited the station and met Clarke. He was much impressed with his ability, and on returning to Melbourne recommended him to the editor of the Argus, and Clarke became a member of the literary staff of that paper. He found it impossible to carry out the ordinary routine tasks of a journalist, but remained a contributor for several years. In 1868 he became proprietor and editor of the Colonial Monthly to which his first novel, Long Odds, was contributed. It appeared in book form in 1869 with a dedication "to G. A. W. in grateful remembrance of the months of July and August". This has reference to the fact that during those months Clarke was suffering from the effects of a serious accident in the hunting field, and Walstab carried on the story while he was incapacitated. In 1868 the Yorick Club was founded with Clarke as its first secretary. Other members were Adam Lindsay Gordon (q.v.), Henry Kendall (q.v.) and George Gordon McCrae (q.v.), and these men made Melbourne the literary centre of Australia. In the following year Clarke started a weekly satirical paper called Humbug which, however, lasted only three months. On 22 July 1869 he was married to Marian Dunn, a rising young actress of the period. Clarke at this time was making his living by journalism. He now tried his hand at drama and his adaptation of Charles Reade's novel Foul Play was produced at Melbourne with but moderate success. He then interviewed the proprietors of the Australian Journal and suggested that he should write a serial novel dealing with the convict days. The first instalment of his well-known novel His Natural Life appeared in the issue for March 1870. In June Clarke was given the appointment of secretary to the trustees of the public library. No man was less fitted by training and temperament for this position, but much was forgiven on account of his personal charm and his powers as a writer. For the Christmas season of 1870 he wrote the words of the pantomime Goody Two Shoes, and his Old Tales of a Young Country was published in 1871. He was steadily writing the instalments of His Natural Life, though later on he found it very difficult to be up to time with them. In the issue for December 1871 the proprietors of the Australian Journal, in apologizing for the absence of the usual monthly instalment, stated that although they had delayed publication they had been unable to obtain "either copy or explanation". The story was published in book form in 1874 differing in some particulars from the serial issue. On the advice of Sir Charles Gavin Duffy (q.v.) some portions had been omitted and a new prologue was written. In later editions the book is sometimes called For the Term of his Natural Life. This title is given to the edition of the story issued by Angus and Robertson in 1929 which is stated to be the "first complete edition in book form". A short novel 'Twixt Shadow and Shine was published in Melbourne in 1875, but did not go into a second edition until many years after the author's death. Much of this work was done under great anxiety. He had early fallen into the hands of the money lenders, and in 1874 had been compelled to become insolvent. His industry was unfailing but he had no sense of business. Among his activities of this period were a play called Plot, which had a fairly successful run in 1873, much local journalism, and two or three pantomimes. He was also the Melbourne correspondent of the London Daily Tele graph. He had a fair salary and one way and another must at times have had a good income. Probably, as one of his biographers suggested, he had no conception of what was meant by 60 per cent interest. In 1877 he did a piece of hack work, a History of Australia, for the use of schools. He had been appointed sub librarian at the public library in 1873, but his work there must always have been subordinated to his literary work. In 1880 he became involved in controversy with Bishop Moorhouse (q.v.); he had a facile pen but it is doubtful whether he had the knowledge to fit himself for controversy of this kind. His private affairs were again involved about this period, and to add to his worries he had been appointed agent for his cousin Sir Andrew Clarke (q.v.), with a comprehensive power of attorney. Clarke was as little fitted to look after the affairs of another man as his own. In July his estate was again sequestrated and, worn out by anxiety and disappointment, he died on 2 August 1881, leaving a widow and six young children. Shortly before his death he was a candidate for the office of public librarian, but the position was given to Dr T. F. Bride.
Marcus Clarke was short and slight with a face remarkable for its beauty. His wit was polished, his humour refined, he had great powers of description, and a slight stutter did not detract from his charm as a conversationalist. He was an excellent though unequal journalist, and he wrote some good light verse. His sketches of the early days in Old Tales of a Young Country (1871) still retain their interest, and of his novels Long Odds (1869) is good in its way. 'Twixt Shadow and Shine (1875), and Chidiock Tichbourne, published posthumously in 1893, might, however, have been written by any fairly competent writer of the period. His Natural Life is his title to fame. A powerful story of a grim period, it triumphs over its minor improbabilities, and its reader is carried on by its pure human interest to the last word.
Hamilton Mackinnon, biography prefixed to the Austral Edition of the Selected Works of Marcus Clarke; H. G. Turner in The Development of Australian Literature; D. Byrne, Australian Writers; A. W. Brazier, Marcus Clarke: His Work and Genius; H. M. Green, An Outline of Australian Literature. A list of Clarke's works will be found on pp. 63-4 of The Marcus Clarke Memorial Volume, which also has a portrait, and a large amount of information is included in the bibliographies and commentary in E. Morris Miller's Australian Literature. See also, Samuel R. Simmons, Marcus Clarke and the Writing of "Long Odds".

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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  • Marcus Andrew Hislop Clarke — (* 24. April 1846 in London; † 2. August 1881 in Melbourne) war ein australischer Schriftsteller. Leben und Werk Sein wichtigstes Werk ist der Roman „Lebenslänglich“ (Originaltitel: For the Term of his Natural Life ). Ursprünglich ist der Roman… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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  • CLARKE, Sir Andrew (1824-1902) — administrator was born at Southsea, Hampshire, England, on 27 July 1824. He was the eldest son of Lieut. Colonel Andrew Clarke (1793 1847) and his wife Frances, daughter of Philip Lardner. His father entered the army as an ensign when only 13… …   Dictionary of Australian Biography

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  • Marcus Clarke — en 1874 Marcus Andrew Hislop Clarke (24 avril 1846 2 août 1881) est un romancier et poète australien, connu surtout pour son roman For the Term of his Natural Life . Bio …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Clarke —   [klɑːk],    1) Arthur Charles, englischer Schriftsteller und Unterwasserforscher, * Minehead (County Somerset) 16. 12. 1917; war im Zweiten Weltkrieg Radarspezialist der Royal Air Force; betreibt seit 1954 Unterwasserforschung an den Küsten von …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Marcus Clarke — This article is about the Australian novelist and poet. For other uses, see Marcus Clarke (disambiguation). Marcus Clarke in 1874 Marcus Andrew Hislop Clarke (24 April 1846 – 2 August 1881) was an Australian novelist and poet, best known for his… …   Wikipedia

  • Κλαρκ, Μάρκους Άντριου Χίσλοπ — (Marcus Andrew Hislop Clarke, Λονδίνο 1846 – Μελβούρνη 1881). Αυστραλός συγγραφέας και δημοσιογράφος. Γεννήθηκε στην Αγγλία αλλά το 1863 μετανάστευσε στην Αυστραλία, όπου συνεργάστηκε με διάφορες εφημερίδες. Το 1868 διορίστηκε γραμματέας της… …   Dictionary of Greek

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