Image of Marcus Clarke


Lifetime: 1846 - 1881 Passed: ≈ 142 years ago


Novelist , Journalist


United States

Marcus Clarke

Marcus Andrew Hislop Clarke was an English-born Australian novelist, journalist, poet, editor, librarian and playwright. He is best known for his 1874 novel For the Term of His Natural Life, about the convict system in Australia, and widely regarded as a classic of Australian literature. It has been adapted into many plays, films and a folk opera.

Marcus Clarke was born in 11 Leonard Place Kensington, London, the only son of London barrister William Hislop Clarke and Amelia Elizabeth Matthews Clarke, who died when he was just four years old. He was the nephew of Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Andrew Clarke, a Governor of Western Australia, and grandson of a retired military medical officer, Dr Andrew Clarke, who made his fortune in the West Indies and settled in Ireland. Clarke was born with his left arm at least two inches shorter than the right, which prevented him from joining the army, though he became an accomplished diver in his days at Cholmeley Grammar, Highgate School.   Clarke also had a slight stammer which remained his whole life.

Clarke was already writing stories for the Australian Magazine, when in 1867 he joined the staff of The Argus and The Australasian in Melbourne through the introduction of Dr. Robert Lewins, writing under the heading 'The Peripatetic Philosopher'. He was noted for his vivid descriptions of Melbourne's street scenes and city types, including the "low life" of opium dens, brothels and gambling houses. He always claimed he was interested in the "parti-colored, patch-worked garment of life".These columns brought Clarke to the attention of the public, who enjoyed his schoolboy humor and his popularity as a writer grew. Clarke contributed to many colonial newspapers and he was the local correspondent for the London Daily Telegraph.

Books by Marcus Clarke

For the Term of His Natural Life  Cover image

For the Term of His Natural Life

Fiction Novel
Australian life Murder Prison Historical Fiction Imprisonment Convicts

For the Term of his Natural Life, written by Marcus Clarke, was published in the Australian Journal between 1870 and 1872 (as His Natural Life), appearing as a novel in 1874. It is the best known novelisation of life as a convict in early Australian...

Wail of the Waiter Cover image

Wail of the Waiter

LibriVox volunteers bring you 12 recordings of The Wail of the Waiter by Marcus Clarke. This was the Fortnightly Poetry project for May 16, 2020. ------ A little something in anticipation of the day when things return to normal and folks everywh...

In A Lady's Album Cover image

In A Lady's Album

LibriVox volunteers bring you 17 recordings of In A Lady's Album by Marcus Clarke. This was the Weekly Poetry project for June 7, 2020. ------ Opinion is divided as to whether this poem by a notorious bohemian was sincere or whether he was trying t...

Mind's Eye Cover image

Mind's Eye

LibriVox volunteers bring you 17 recordings of The Mind's Eye by Marcus Clarke. This was the Fortnightly Poetry project for June 28, 2020. ------ This Fortnightly Poem is taken from The Australian Edition of the Selected Works of Marcus Clarke (pu...