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Clarke, Marian (1853 - 1933)

27 March 1853
Neithrop, Oxfordshire, Australia
2 July 1933
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Headmistress and Painter


Marian Clarke was the founding headmistress of Abbotsleigh, an Anglican girls' school in Sydney, New South Wales.


Marian Clarke was educated in Germany before attending University College in Bristol. She passed the Cambridge local examination in 1880 and began her career in girls' education the same year.

Between 1880-1884 she taught at the High School for Girls, Manchester. She migrated to Australia in December 1884, arriving in Sydney to work at her sister's school at Normanhurst.

188 she pened her own school, Abbotsleigh, in North Sydney, moving the school to Parramatta in 1888. Ten years later in 1898 she moved the school to its current premises at Wahroonga.

In December 1913 she sold the school to Margaret Murray and went to Paris to study painting. In Europe during the first world war, she worked for the British Red Cross Society between 1916-19, and was placed in charge of a hostel in Somerset for nurses recovering from fatigue.

After the war Clarke travelled extensively in Europe and Africa and studied painting. Aged 71, her first painting was accepted by the Salon de la Société des Artistes Français in Paris.

She returned to Australia in 1928 and died in 1933.

Sources used to compile this entry: Claydon, Robyn, 'Clarke, Marian (1853-1933)', in Australian Dictionary of Biography Online, Australian National University, 2006,

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  • Abbotsleigh (1885 - )

    Marian Clarke was the founder and first principal of Abbotsleigh school in Sydney

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