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Synopsis for For the Term of His Natural Life by Marcus Clarke
Told with great force, “For the Term of His Natural Life” is a narrative of great suffering – of whips, chains and man’s inhumanity. There is no attempt to soften the truth of degradation and dark cruelty in convict Australia. And yet the novel is filled with life, and peopled with vivid characters. Rufus Dawes, condemned to transportation for a crime he did not commit, is one of the most unforgettable characters of Australian literature. This is perhaps Australia’s most significant and most famous 19th century colonial novel and has found success both in Australia and abroad – it has been translated into German, Dutch, Swedish and Russian. It was serialised from 1870 to 1872 and published as a work for the first time in Australia in 1874.
About Marcus Clarke (Books by Marcus Clarke…)
Marcus Andrew Hislop Clarke (24 April 1846 – 2 August 1881) was an Australian novelist and poet, best known for his novel For the Term of his Natural Life.
Marcus Clarke was born in London on 24 April 1846 and was educated at Highgate School. He was the only son of William Hislop Clarke. He emigrated to Australia, where his uncle, James Langton Clarke, was a county court judge. He was at first a clerk in the Bank of Australasia, but showed no business ability, and soon proceeded to learn farming at a station on the Wimmera River, Victoria.
He was already writing stories for the Australian Magazine, when in 1867 he joined the staff of the Melbourne Argus through the introduction of Dr. Robert Lewins. He briefly visited Tasmania in 1870 at the request of the Argus to experience at first hand the settings of articles he was writing on the convict period. Old Stories Retold began to appear in the Australasian from February. The following month his great novel His Natural Life (later called For the Term of His Natural Life) commenced serialisation in the Australasian Journal. He also became secretary (1872) to the trustees of the Melbourne Public Library and later (1876) Sub (assistant) Librarian. He founded in 1868 the Yorick Club, which soon numbered among its members the chief Australian men of letters. The most famous of his books is For the Term of his Natural Life (Melbourne, 1874), a powerful tale of an Australian penal settlement. He also wrote The Peripatetic Philosopher (1869), a series of amusing papers reprinted from The Australasian; Long Odds (London, 1870), a novel; and numerous comedies and pantomimes, the best of, which was Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star (Theatre Royal, Melbourne; Christmas, 1873). In 1869 he married the actress Marian Dunn with whom he had six children
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