- 24 April 1846
- 2 August 1881
Clarke was born in Kensington, London, in privileged circumstances. Following his father's financial ruin and subsequent death in 1863, however, Clarke decided to immigrate to Australia where he worked in a variety of occupations. In 1867 he became a staff writer for the Argus, where he wrote a regular, often humorous column, 'The Peripatetic Philosopher'. He was also heavily involved in colonial theatrical life, writing pantomimes, and comedies as well as a libretto for a satirical, political operetta called The Happy Land (1880) which was subsequently banned. Burdened by debt, Clarke was forced into insolvency in 1874. His early writings were published in the Australian Monthly Magazine, Colonial Monthly (which he edited 1868-69), The Australasian and other newspapers and periodicals. His most famous work, the novel, His Natural Life, was serialised in The Australian Journal 1870-72 and published by George Robertson in 1874. A different version, For the Term of His Natural Life, was published posthumously in 1884-85.