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Clark, Mavis Thorpe (1909 - 1999)

Born
26 June , 1909
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Died
8 July, 1999
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Occupation
Author
Alternative Names
  • Latham, Mavis Rose (maiden name)
  • M.R.Clark (pen name)

Summary

Mavis Thorpe Clark was a prolific writer of children's fiction who, in late life, also wrote for adults. In the process of researching her first adult book, Pastor Doug, the biography of Sir Douglas Nicholls, she created a large archive of letters and correspondence of relevance to indigneous scholarship.

Details

Mavis Thorpe Clark was born in Melbourne, Victoria, in 1909. Her writing career began at the age of 14, when the Australasian published, as a children's serial, her work The Red School, by no means a masterpiece, but her first literary endeavour. Her first published book, written when she was 18 and sold to Whitcombe and Tombs in 1930 for the then handsome sum of £30, was Hatherley's First Fifteen, a boy's adventure story about Rugby football.

Her first book for adults, Pastor Doug, the biography of Sir Douglas Nicholls, Aboriginal pastor later appointed Governor of South Australia, was published in 1965 and re-issued in 1973 in a revised second edition. In 1979, she published another Doug Nicholls's biographical account under the title The Boy from Cumeroogunga. In order to complete this task, she researched Aboriginal archives and associated with Aboriginal people, and has left a large amount of personal notes, correspondence, research files, etc. of relevance to Aboriginal scholarship.

Unlike most authors, Clark did not suffer rejection of any book submitted for publication. She became an extremely prolific writer and published 32 books, mostly for children, five of which were broadcast as serials by the Australian Broadcasting Commission. Her book The Min Min won the 1967 Australian Children's Book of the Year award, and film rights to The Sky Is Free were bought by the Walt Disney organisation. Clark died in Melbourne in 1999, at the age of 90. She has been honoured by having the national Fellowship of Australian Writers Mavis Thorpe Clark Award named after her.

Sources used to compile this entry: Sayers, Stuart. 'Her Target - One Book a Year', The Age, 29 May 1976, 'Wrote Book on Pastor Doug', The Age, 13 Nov 1965.

Archival resources

National Library of Australia Manuscript Collection

  • Papers of Mavis Thorpe Clark, 1923-1987, MS 7847; Clark, Mavis Thorpe (1909 - 1999); National Library of Australia Manuscript Collection. Details

State Library of Victoria, Australian Manuscripts Collection

  • Letters: to Grade Fives, Blackburn South Primary School, 2 August 1974 - , MS 12847; Clark, Mavis Thorpe (1909 - 1999); State Library of Victoria, Australian Manuscripts Collection. Details
  • Manuscript and research files of Mavis Thorpe Clark, 1950 - 1980, PA 01/59; Clark, Mavis Thorpe (1909 - 1999); State Library of Victoria, Australian Manuscripts Collection. Details
  • Papers of Mavis Thorpe Clark, 1980?, PA 99/124; Clark, Mavis Thorpe (1909 - 1999); State Library of Victoria, Australian Manuscripts Collection. Details

Leonarda Kovacic and Nikki Henningham

Site-wide information and acknowledgements

National Foundation for Australian Women The University of Melbourne, eScholarship Research Centre

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ISSN 2207-3124