State Library Victoria > La Trobe Journal

No 86 December 2010


Laurie Hergenhan
In Search of Marcus Clarke: a memoir

Marcus Clarke in riding gear, c. 1866. Photographer unknown, albumen silver carte-de-visite. Picture Collection, H2009.131.

WRITING THIS ESSAY on my 'search' for Clarke proved a challenge. After completing the book, Cyril Hopkins' Marcus Clarke1 (hereafter CH), co-edited with Ken Stewart and Michael Wilding, I readily agreed to write a piece without thinking about the implications of 'search'. I had written my first piece on Clarke way back in 1965 and, while I have retained a continuing if intermittent interest in him, many other authors
and projects have crowded in. Had I really been searching for Clarke all that time, even unawares? Does a 'search' for an author mean that one is looking for answers to specific questions, that the search is a guided one? When we are impressed by authors for the first time, we often want to find out more about them, to read their other books and explore their lives. If an interest is maintained, like mine in Clarke, the search may follow different lines of enquiry; getting to know an author well is a gradual process. A search involves admiration and often a fascination with the subject. Though we can find reasons for this we may wonder whether the real reasons lie beyond our conscious reach. Moreover, any search is not undertaken in a vacuum. Typically, my interest in Clarke was stimulated by other researchers' revaluations of his work and times. Famous as Clarke may be, the terms of his fame have fluctuated, especially as he belongs to a colonial past that some critics want to leave behind. My long-term interest has, then, been stimulated by revaluations and also perhaps by an ill-defined but strong sense of personal attraction or imagined affinity, a sense that he had something special to say to me personally.
I first read Clarke's For the Term of His Natural Life (hereafter HNL) only after I had completed postgraduate work in London and taken up a lectureship at the University of Tasmania in Hobart in 1961. My undergraduate course at Sydney University did not include Australian literature. When convalescing after a serious illness in Hobart in 1963 I read the novel by chance. 'Not very cheerful reading for someone in your situation', a friend ironically commented. Yet, like many others, I found the novel harrowing but not depressing. I felt that while Clarke confronted human suffering, interweaving hope and despair, there was an overall positive quality to the novel, a sense that the human spirit can survive extreme afflictions, that it can endure defeat in a worldly sense but not be crushed. But as Thomas Hardy wrote:'... if way to the better there be, it exacts a full look at the worst'. It is this hope for 'civilisation' and its ambiguities with which the novel is concerned. The fact that I was living at the time in Tasmania, where a sense of a tragic past is more palpable – as at Port Arthur – than in other Australian states, probably helped to make my first reading so memorable.
While carried along by Clarke's narrative, the rattling good story, I was impressed by the novel's literary quality. Accordingly I decided to write on the novel for Australian Literary Studies (hereafter ALS), a scholarly journal of which I had just become founding editor two years previously. I called the essay 'The Redemptive Theme in His Natural Life',2 arguing that the novel uses Victorian fictional conventions, seriously and effectively – given some lapses – as Dickens and Balzac (Clarke's two most admired novelists) had pre-eminently done. Dickens's fictional craft was only being recognised in any depth by the early 1960s by those who rejected his exclusion from the 'Great Tradition' proposed by F. R. Leavis. Clarke's novel is not, I thought to myself, the simple, melodramatic tale it has sometimes been taken for. My work in London on the nineteenth-century novel, undertaken in contact with other enthusiasts of that genre,

Title page of the first edition of His Natural Life (1874) presented to J. J. Shillinglaw by Marcus Clarke with the inscription: from the Author, Thank God! Shillinglaw on the blank opposite the title-page explains the reasons behind Clarke's inscription. Rare Books Collection.

made me aware of Clarke's remarkable art. As with Dickens, complications and improbabilities of plot should not be measured by strict demands of realism (though Clarke was basically a realist), but rather seen as a means to an end. The novel's complex structure involves the conscious organisation of diverse literary elements to explore moral and social themes revolving around ambiguous concepts of 'nature': of what is considered 'natural' in society, and also of what distinguishes the 'civilised' from the 'uncivilised'.
I was excited by the ways Clarke gave HNL its remarkable resonance – indeed a mythic quality – so that it reached far beyond an exploration of a particular penal system. Clarke used crime and punishment as other writers were doing at the time -Hugo, Dickens Dostoyevsky, and Charles Reade – to explore social issues which today remain unresolved. Previous Clarke critics, I later discovered, had recognised the novel's sweep and depth but I was buoyed up by a sense of personal revelation, of finding this out for myself. Passages in the novel signalled to me its mythic scope, sometimes with
biblical overtones: the references to the protagonist who had 'faced the gallows, the desert and the sea' ('desert' is used in the sense of uninhabited); 'the sympathetic bond between the priest and the sinner'; the 'power of the wilderness and of the inexorable mountains' paralleling the varying cruelty and indifference of nature and society; the ironic use of the Crusoe motif in the parable of the marooned party at Macquarie Harbour; the cannibal chapter ironically entitled 'In the Valley of the Shadow of Death'. While my article was not altogether a new departure, I would like to think that it helped to restore what had been glimpsed then lost sight of, and so to redirect critical attention back to Clarke from a contemporary point of view. It was a suitable time for revaluations since the 1960s was the time of the rise of modern critical studies of Australian literature at the new and expanding universities.
That decade and the one that followed saw the appearance of a number of influential articles on Clarke, especially in the journals Southerly and ALS. These articles included discussions of the structure of the novel, its design, reinterpretations of its themes and also studies of the context of its publishing history: the circumstances of the writing of the novel. In other words the scholarly apparatus of modern critical studies began to be applied to Clarke. I commissioned the first article for ALS3 on its use of historical sources by Tasmanian historian Lloyd Robson and this was to be followed by similar pieces. While of course the work made use of and acknowledged its sources, it remains a novel, relying fundamentally on imaginative not literal truth. An imaginative work which draws upon and transforms history, it is not an attempt to write history, as some have mistakenly thought. As in later convict novels by Thomas Keneally, Patrick White and others, Clarke took liberties in his use of sources. (I later wrote a book4 about the main Australian novels which used the convict system).
After experiencing what seemed like a personal revelation about Clarke's novel I wanted to learn about his life, so I turned to the one full-dress, recent biography5 by Brian Elliott of the University of Adelaide. This was the first modern biography of an Australian writer and I took the unusual step of writing to Brian to express my admiration for his book. He, in turn, was touched, I think, and we began a long friendship, the first of others associated with my Clarke studies. Brian was a senior scholar, and a pioneer of Australian Studies. We hit it off personally, sharing interests reaching far beyond Clarke. I went several times to stay with him and his wife Pat in their house in Adelaide, with its extensive back garden of fruit trees and its grapevine-covered arbour where we breakfasted. Though different in temperament we stimulated one another. Brian could be attractively quirky – someone used the term spiky – in his attitudes and writing. I remember he shocked his audience at an Australian literature conference by his unapologetically unfashionable views.
The influence of Elliott's biography was a lasting one for it made me aware of the extent and appeal of Clarke's unremembered but distinguished journalism. I decided to track it down in old newspaper files and to publish a selection. Accordingly I spent nine

Publisher's file copy of Humbug: a weekly illustrated journal of satire, showing annotations by the editor, Marcus Clarke, on page one of the issue for 22 September 1869. Rare Books Collection.

months of my first study leave from the University of Tasmania in 1968 working on this project in Melbourne at the State Library of Victoria (hereafter SLV). At the time Clarke's stocks were not high in Melbourne academia, where Australian literature, especially that of the pre-nationalist, colonial era, was a relatively new and not yet a wholly respectable area of literary research. I remember some colleagues looking sceptical, if not amused, when I referred to my 'research' on Clarke. My project was, however, encouraged by Stephen Murray-Smith who hospitably welcomed me into the Overland circle. Here, among others, I met historians interested in literature, including Ian Turner.
It was a happy, indeed an exciting time for me. I rented a house in Kew, near 'Raheen', for my family and I remember tripping daily down the hill by bus to the Library, there consulting old newspapers in their original form with the invaluable help of librarians. This was the place to be for such a task. Patricia Reynolds was La Trobe Librarian at the time. She and her staff were unfailingly helpful. There was the excitement not only of tracking down pieces that Elliott had noted but also of discovering out-of-the-way items. And the Library was rich in local resources essential for annotating the journalism: information about forgotten personalities and places (hotels, restaurants, theatres and the like). I felt privileged and have never been as happy as a researcher, except when working some years before (1957-1960) on the nineteenth-century novel and British newspapers. As I was then rapidly skimming papers in search of book reviews, I had been allowed to roam the vast stacks of the British Museum newspaper holdings at Colindale in north London, an exceptional liberty, finding newspapers not listed in any catalogue or bibliography. In Melbourne I had to work with photocopies of located items, in London with hand-written transcriptions, more modern research methods being not then available; but having access to actual copies of newspapers and magazines, before microfilm, was a luxury. I remember the excitement of seeing the SLV's copy of Clarke's editorial file of his short-lived comic-satiric journal, Humbug, containing anonymous contributors' names written-in beside articles, along with payments, in Clarke's hand. Stimulating too was the awareness that Clarke had been the sub-librarian at the Melbourne Public Library in the 1870s and had used its resources for some of his writings.
Although Clarke's journalism could be ephemeral, much of it was vivid, experimental and comic, rarely dull. It was readable, sometimes racy, in recording and interpreting the colourful urban Melbourne life of the post-gold rush boom; at the same time it exploited a range of journalistic approaches, penetrating 'the parti-coloured, patchworked garment of life' to the enduringly human beneath. His writing was enlivened by the sense of discovering material that had not been written up in this way before; Melbourne manners might have imitated London's where they could, but they were not a mere copy, rather an adaptation to different conditions, sometimes a transformation. As Clarke wrote in his review (1871) of Bret Harte's The Luck of Roaring Camp: '. . . in a new country . . . there are opportunities for fresh and vigorous delineation of human character which the settled society of the old world does not offer
As well as discovering other facets of Clarke through his journalism, especially his knockabout humour, Bohemian high spirits and puncturing satire of contemporary life, I found something else of particular interest. Clarke covered a wide scope of Melbourne life: the professions (including doctors, lawyers, theatre people), the nouveau riche, but he also captured the Bohemian life of journalists, artists, and writers. He distinguished between Upper and Lower Bohemia. The first is a 'land of freedom, and wit, and
pleasure; sparkling with supper parties and radiant with beauty', a 'fictitious' land romanticised by contemporary popular French writers. The latter's counterpart in Melbourne, but taking a less elevated, and a chauvinist form was the Yorick Club, founded by Clarke and marked by the convivial life of its members. However it became increasingly respectable towards the end of Clarke's life. On the other hand Clarke identified a 'Lower Bohemia' which is 'stripped of its poetry ... where rags, and poverty, and drunkenness, and crime all huddle together'. This is the world of Melbourne outcasts, the homeless, forced to sleep out-of-doors, 'within a stone's-throw of your [respectable readers'] doors. This is 'the last stage of the tramp's journey'. Clarke paints a graphic picture of their misery, investing local scenes with the mythic quality found in his great novel. He uses European literary models (the documentary approach of Mayhew, the imaginative sketches of French writers; American frontier romance), showing the struggle of humans against 'the city wilderness [of] modern Crusoes who have no ship from which to draw stores and ammunition'.
Alluding to Fennimore Cooper, then so popular in Europe, and other writers, he depicts the outcasts as 'the "trappers" of the city wilderness'. 'Imagine', he continues, 'a desert of locked doors ... a pavement instead of a prairie, a policeman instead of a Comanche, and you have your Bohemian'. Clarke ends his series with a vision of the Melbourne hangman (by the name of Bamford, also the public flagellator, whom Clarke had interviewed), now an outcast among other outcasts who are hostile to him as 'an executor of justice ... forced to live like a dog by reason of his office'. Clarke felt he was 'in the midst of Crusoe's desert island of modern civilisation, and I [he] suddenly came upon that Footprint – instinct with a terrible significance – which was alone wanting to make the parallel complete'. This footprint was the sign of cannibalism, of a 'dog eats dog' society, comparable to Balzac's vision of the city as a jungle, or to Dickens's predatory London.
Reading this journalistic sketch in 1968 was a revelation to me. Written before or about the same time as HNL the sketch confirmed that the sources of HNL lay partly, as one might have suspected, in Clarke's identification with the Melbourne outcasts, and in turn in the personal experiences of exile prompting it. So when A. G. Stephens claimed that the novel's power lay 'perdu in the convict records, he misunderstood the true nature of the work, diminishing its power by reducing it to documentary. Moreover, later discoveries have suggested that Clarke had also drawn upon other first-hand experience, for instance the spectacle of floggings at the Melbourne gaol to which he and other journalists had been invited by the prison governor to witness.6 Clarke possibly also drew on his own experience of a schoolboy flogging he had endured at the hands of the headmaster of Highgate School, Dr Dyne, who was dubbed 'a Swisher' by Edmund Yates. (Clarke's school friend, Gerard Manley Hopkins had been similarly treated).
To return to my research on Clarke's journalism, I decided to call the collection A Colonial City because colonial history up to that time had concentrated more on the
bush and pioneering bush life than urban development. Moreover, Clarke was by upbringing and preference a city-dweller, unlike such later pioneering writers as Lawson, Furphy and Miles Franklin, who were all products of the bush rather than the city, which they disparaged. Yet as CH shows Clarke had more than a passing experience of both life in the bush and the wild country beyond settlement.
I had made arrangements for my journalism selections to be considered for publication by Sun Books of Melbourne, with Geoffrey Dutton as reader. I recall sending the bulky photocopies to him at Kangaroo Island where he was holidaying. Always a generous man he responded positively so that I was able to leave for abroad in October 1968 with the satisfaction of a task completed. The collection involved the kind of research I enjoy most: the editing and making available of literary materials. The road to publication, however, was not straightforward. Brian Stonier, Manager of Sun Books decided not to go ahead so I sent the MS to Frank Thompson at the University of Queensland Press. (Coincidentally I moved to the University of Queensland in 1971). Its positive reception there was echoed in reviews when the book was published in 1972.7 I remember Douglas Stewart and Stuart Sayers as reviewers being pleasantly surprised by the quality of the journalism and welcoming the book. And I still occasionally meet appreciative readers. Manning Clark was another and he drew from A Colonial City in his History of Australia.
Renewed critical interest in Clarke grew in the 1970s, especially with the work on him by author Michael Wilding who, along with Brian Elliott, did most to deepen my knowledge of Clarke. As with Elliott, Wilding became a long-term friend, from the 1960s in the latter's case, as well a fellow Clarke-enthusiast and a collaborator. Wilding produced two influential books. Marcus Clarke8 reprinted HNL in a context of a selection of short pieces in other genres, some not previously reprinted, and including critical essays on Clarke's favourite novelists, Dickens and Balzac. The presenting of the novel with a range of supporting pieces meant that the volume became the most cited edition of the novel. (This volume was initially part of the Australian Portable Authors series of which I was general editor. The term 'Portable' was dropped from the title because of complaints from an American publisher which had its own 'Portable' series).
Wilding's other book9 on Clarke (a monograph in the Australian Writers and Their Work' series) drew attention to Clarke's range of writings and their pioneering contribution to establishing an Australian literature. The study brought home anew to me and others that Clarke was not the one-book author of popular estimation, for he adapted various overseas literary models to transform representations of Australian experience. Wilding stressed 'the range and achievement of this extraordinarily prolific writer', pointing out that he was a novelist, and short story writer, a playwright and poet, a journalist and reviewer, an editor and publisher and a re-teller of tales of our early history, centred around 'the mythic characters of Australia's foundation'. Instead of passing over what had seemed to previous critics and me to be secondary roles of Clarke,
Wilding saw them as valuable achievements in themselves and also as serving to pioneer a literary culture. In short, Wilding celebrated Clarke as Australia's first professional man of letters. As a migrant from the UK, like Clarke before him, Wilding played a number of roles himself as a seminal figure of the 'new' writing of the 1960s and 1970s. Consequently in his criticism he was stimulatingly responsive to Clarke as a forerunner or counterpart of himself. As well as writing in all the same genres as Clarke had, except for poetry, Wilding performed similar roles as literary 'enabler': reviewer and literary critic, co-editor of the experimental Tabloid Short Story (helping in this role and as practitioner to transform contemporary Australian short fiction) and co-publisher of Wild and Woolley. As well he was a much publicised modern bohemian of 'le Ghetto Balmain' and spokesman-exemplar of the counter-culture.
I stayed several times with Michael in Balmain meeting members of the generation of 'new' writers and at his suggestion I edited for ALS a special issue on 'New Writing'.10 In imaginative moments, visiting from Balmain from Brisbane seemed to me (as one belonging by age-group to the previous generation of the 50s) like dipping my toes into a latter-day Bohemia; groups of controversial writers and personalities, gossip, coteries and their machinations, colourful incidents, pranks and partying all seeming to me an echo, if a distant one, of Clarke's Bohemian times. I recall writing a dedication to Michael in a copy of A Colonial City quoting sententiously, from Clarke's 'essay, Austin Friars', about his convivial life with fellow Bohemian writers when he first moved to Melbourne from up-country. Michael owned at the time a black cat he called 'Marcus'. It came and went mysteriously, encouraging my fantasies.
In his monograph, then, Wilding broke new ground not only in his wide-ranging appreciation of HNL but particularly of Clarke as short story writer, adapting various sub-genres of bush tales: using modes of the realistic, sentimental, melodramatic, fantasy, and Gothic, while his urban stories included drug-based experiences and Borgesian speculative fiction. Wilding viewed Clarke as a literary experimenter and an enthusiastic internationalist. In addition to his selection, Marcus Clarke, Wilding was responsible for the reissuing of the first modern, complete single collection of Clarke's stories,11 thus complementing my aim in A Colonial City to raise the visibility of Clarke's lesser known writings. Omitted from all these selections, however, is Clarke's essay, 'Modern Art and Gustave Dore', only found in Bill Wannan's earlier collection, A Marcus Clarke Reader.12 I found this essay important in revealing sources of Clarke's graphic power, such a feature of his work. He kept abreast of British and European painting and popular graphic art, including illustrations of nineteenth-century fiction; indeed he was a mentor of Gerard Manley Hopkins' appreciation of the former (CH, p. x).
The co-edited compilation of CH in 2009 increased my knowledge and understanding of Clarke and his contexts through its extensive annotations. Along with other scholars, the editors and I had long known and made use of the unpublished manuscript life of Clarke by Cyril Hopkins, brother of Gerard Manley Hopkins (the
three went to high school in London together) but the research demanded by the notes took us into unexpected places. As Patrick Morgan suggested in his review in Quadrant, the cumulative information in this work virtually amounts to a third biography, following Hamilton McKinnon's first attempt13 and then Brian Elliott's considered work. And the book draws most from the two libraries with the major research resources of Clarke's life: the Mitchell Library and the SLV. CH is an essential document for two main reasons. It provides the only first hand account of Clarke's formative years: his schooldays, and of the traumatic event which brought them to a sudden end. Clarke was sixteen years of age when his father, a barrister of comfortable means and member of an influential family, unexpectedly suffered a physical and mental collapse that eventually proved fatal. He left his financial affairs in disarray so that Marcus's hopes for a secure future were suddenly shattered. He felt forced to uproot himself and to migrate to Australia facing uncertain prospects. The second essential feature of Cyril's biography is that Cyril, his closest friend, is the only one in England with whom Clarke kept in close contact by correspondence, which, unfortunately, is no longer extant. Cyril drew on these letters for a substantial part of his biography.
Apart from recording the crucial information of Cyril's biography in full, for the first time, the accompanying annotation of CH led me into new places. Researching one detail alone induced a kind of researcher's 'epiphany'. In one of Clarke's letters to Cyril he included specimens of Australian slang, including the following:'. . . in the Bush, if you invite a stranger to partake of supper you say, "Hullo, Mate, come in and sport your Dover! (A Dover is a knife.)"'. In his Dictionary of Australian colloquialisms,14 G. A. Wilkes glosses the expression: 'flash your Dover is essentially Colonial slang. The majority of clasp knives imported in to the Australian colonies...were made by one "Dover"'. Wilkes cites the first use he found to be in the Stephen Murray-Smith edited, full-length version15 of HNL. Clarke's notation of the term is significant because it suggests that he had stored up observations of life on the goldfields from his earliest years in Australia for possible literary use later. (From this example we can see that he sometimes appears to have drawn on his notes to fill out letters to Cyril.) In the serialised version of the novel the protagonist Richard Dawes escapes from Van Diemen's Land instead of dying there, then spends some time on the Victorian goldfields before returning to England. This extension of setting, enriching Clarke's depiction of colonial life, was probably prompted by his direct experience. Cyril tells us that when employed briefly by the Bank of Australasia, Clarke visited the goldfields towns of Wood's Point and Dunolly: 'He had to ride about and buy gold and could study at his leisure the ways of the "diggers" and the local characteristics, with the result that he brought back to Melbourne "two big notebooks crammed with notes on men and manners" (to adopt his own language) which he subsequently turned to good account' (CH, p. 93). Elliott states, on the other hand, that Clarke did not use the notes and does not mention them in relation to HNL. It is a pity that the notebooks did not ever find
their way into the SLV, but thanks to Cyril we know of their existence and that parts were used in HNL. The term 'Dover' was, then, for me a researcher's speck of gold leading to this discovery.
Clarke's use of records of the convict system has been exhaustively explored, but not those of gold-fields history, which he must have drawn upon as well as his notes. One may wonder if the shorter version of HNL has been preferred to the longer partly because it is more accessible and being shorter, easier to read. A discriminating critic and distinguished novelist, Randolph Stow, told me in conversation that he preferred the longer version. As well, Lyndy Abraham has shown16 that an alchemical theme unifies the novel and that the goldfields section contributes to it. Perhaps Clarke may not have stretched his novel so far, thereby wearying readers of the serial and trying his publisher's patience, unless he felt that that he did not want to waste what he thought was good and potentially popular material. It is of course the convict material that has proved lastingly fascinating so far as literature and history are concerned.
Clarke's use of his goldfields experience in his novel, as suggested by the use of 'Dover', serves another important purpose in reminding us that his literary ambitions began much earlier than his formal decision (noted by McKinnon and Elliott) to move from up-country to Melbourne to become a journalist and writer.
'One hundred and fifty years after his passing, though, we in our remote corner of the world are still talking about Clarke, writing about Clarke, editing Clarke, scouring the nether reaches of our libraries for the faintest further light...'. So speaks the protagonist, Martin Frobisher, of Victorian award-winning novelist Michael Meehan in his 2010 novel, Below the Styx. Despite this dramatic hyperbole there are signs in critical discussion of some resurgence of interest in Clarke. (And while Meehan's may be the first novel in which Clarke features, Michael Wilding is completing a documentary novel, with working title, 'That Wild, Bleak Bohemia', about the period when Clarke, Kendall and Gordon were living in Melbourne.) Meehan offers a challenging scrutiny of previous views of Clarke's life and writings. Frobisher, accused of murder, is writing from a remand centre.
In an attempt to understand his past and his present predicament, he embarks on a search for Marcus Clarke with the help of his research assistant, Petra, who exhaustively searches the archives for information. Meehan himself is no stranger to Clarke studies, having co-edited the Oxford 'World Classics' current reprint (2007) of HNL with Graham Tulloch. Frobisher believes that he and Clarke both lived in ages of 'accumulation', of material 'excess' in Melbourne, (150 years apart). Frobisher scrutinises Clarke's journalistic pictures of the city, looking at their strengths but especially at their limitations, the anger and the envy of disappointment that fuels it, the superficiality, the surrender to deadlines and to the taking short-cuts by recycling material. Frobisher views the author – the real Marcus Clarke and not the character within a story – as revenging himself for his disappointments on the taste of his readers by writing 'down':
catering for a superficial readership. Interestingly, this is an opposite argument to that put earlier by post-modernist critic, Andrew McCann where he argues17 that Clarke catered for the commodification of literature of his times, yet at the same time ridiculed it. For McCann this is not a case of having it both ways but rather of exemplifying Clarke's inclusive and ironic awareness.
Meehan deals kindly yet critically with Manning Clark's view of Marcus Clarke (a view generally ignored by literary critics) as a key national figure, concerned with the national ethos: 'Clarke had a clear sense of the nation's historical origins and the way the past weighed upon the present'. Clark, Meehan argues, nevertheless fashioned an image of Australia to suit his own sweeping views, but then, the self-flagellating Frobisher fashions his image of Clarke to suit his own needs. The latter sees Clarke as a man of many masks. Complex writers know how to adopt a face 'to meet the faces that you meet', but behind Clarke's poses, as Cyril Hopkins commented, was a deep reserve:'... the events that drew Clarke to Australia . . . had the effect of sealing up altogether the confidences of one by nature proud and reserved. Indeed, he seems at times to have deliberately endeavoured to give a false impression of his motives and real character' {CH, preface p. 7). It is no surprise then that Frobisher, like others before him, fails to uncover the 'real' Marcus Clarke. As with all writers, one cannot hope to pluck out the heart of his mystery. And even those 'innermost secrets' of the private lives of authors, that some readers crave to discover, cannot explain the mysterious transformation of human material by artists, rather they only explain it away. Who knows what different directions Clarke studies will take in the future? Rather than hoping that future studies might peel away masks of Marcus Clarke, I would like to see re-interpretations of Clarke's life and works continue to flourish, as they have done over the last fifty years, keeping his reputation and his works alive.
To end on a speculative note: I cannot help wondering what Clarke would make of the news that 'Melbourne's literary heritage and culture have been internationally recognised with the city's designation as the world's second 'UNESCO City of Literature'. As ironist and satirist, Clarke would have had his caveats directed at this news and at the changes in today's literary culture wrought by the whirligig of time. But while Clarke, as a fervent internationalist, might have been pleased that the efforts of his pioneering literary colleagues and himself have fed into the future of our present, he would, I surmise, be sombrely aware of the struggles against destitution and despair in the boom-time city endured by himself and by colleagues of his times, by Gordon, Kendall (visiting from Sydney), by Charles Whitehead (who ended in the gutter), Alfred Telo, Richard Birnie, and other unremembered figures. But perhaps the new literary city might see one of its roles as continuing revaluations of its origins?


Melbourne: Australian Scholarly Publishing in association with the State Library of Victoria, 2009.


'The redemptive theme in His Natural Life', Australian Literary Studies, vol. 2, no. 1, 1965, pp. 32-49.


'The historical basis of For the Term of His Natural Life', Australian Literary Studies, vol. 1, no. 2, 1963, pp. 104-121.


Unnatural Lives: studies in Australian fiction about the convicts, from James Tucker to Patrick White, St Lucia, Qld: UQP, 1972.


Brian Elliott, Marcus Clarke, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1958.


See Mark Finnane, ed., The Difficulties of My Position: the diaries of Prison Governor John Buckley Castieau, 1855-1884, Canberra: National Library of Australia, 2004.


A Colonial City: high and low life, selected journalism of Marcus Clarke, St Lucia, Qld: UQP, 1972.


Marcus Clarke, St Lucia, Qld: UQP, 1976.


Marcus Clarke, Melbourne: OUP, Australia, 1977.


Australian Literary Studies, vol. 8, no. 3, 1977.


Marcus Clarke: stories, Sydney: Hale and Iremonger, 1983.


Melbourne: Lansdowne Press, 1963.


Hamilton Mackinnon, ed, The Marcus Clarke Memorial Volume: containing selections from the writings of Marcus Clarke, together with Lord Rosebery's letter, etc. and a biography of the deceased author, Melbourne: Cameron, Laing, 1884.


Sydney: Sydney University Press, 1978.


Ringwood, Vic.: Penguin Books, 1970. This was the first full reprint of the original serial version of His Natural Life which ran in the Australian Journal between March 1870 and June 1872. Clarke condensed the text for the first book publication, published in Melbourne by George Robertson in 1874. From 1882 onwards, this version was known as For the Term of His Natural Life. A scholarly edition of the full text edited by Lurline Stuart with historical background by Michael Roe, and adaptations by Elizabeth Webby, was published as His Natural Life by the University of Queensland Press in 2001 as part of the 'Academy Editions of Australian Literature' series.


"The Australian Crucible: alchemy in Marcus Clarke's His Natural Life, Australian Literary Studies, vol. 15, no. 1, 1991, pp. 38-55.


Marcus Clarke's Bohemia: literature and modernity in Colonial Melbourne, Carlton, Vic.: Melbourne University Press, 2004.