Ronald W. Clark

William Ronald Clark, known as Ronald William Clark (2 November 1916 – 9 March 1987) was a British author of biography, fiction and non-fiction.

Early life and educationEdit

Clark was born in London as William Ronald Clark, the only child of bank cashier, later manager, (William) Ernest Clark and Ethel Kate (née Underdown). He was educated King's College School, at Wimbledon in southwest London; he withdrew from school before the age of eighteen "in full rebellion against his parents" and cut off contact with them, taking a publishing job in central London.[1][2]

CareerEdit

Clark worked in publishing jobs of varied character whilst writing; he encountered no difficulties selling his articles almost from the start, and was encouraged in his writing by his employers. Clark served as a war correspondent during the Second World War after being turned down for military service on medical grounds. As a war correspondent, Clark landed on Juno Beach with the Canadians on D-Day. He followed the war until the end, and remained in Germany to report on the major War Crimes trials as a correspondent for the British United Press.

After returning to Britain he had a desk job with the B.U.P., where he remained until, in 1948, Clark resolved to earn a living through journalism and devote his best energies to the writing of his books. He wrote sixty-six books, covering subjects ranging from mountain climbing (over a dozen titles), the atomic bomb, Balmoral Castle, and world explorers, as well as novels of alternate history. He also wrote a number of biographies of a diverse range of historical figures, including: Charles Darwin, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin, Sigmund Freud, J. B. S. Haldane, V. I. Lenin, Bertrand Russell, Ernst Chain, Edward Appleton and William F. Friedman. V. I. Lenin was Clark's last biography and came out the year following his death.[3]

Personal lifeEdit

Clark was described by his friend John G. Slater of the University of Toronto as "formidable as a person and as a personality... over six feet tall, with a well-developed paunch, bald head, and eyes that fixed upon you... not the sort of man you would hand your hat by mistake". In his later years, on a health regimen, he became quite thin, and by 1986, in ill health, "a very feeble old man" requiring support when walking.

After leaving school for his first job, and having joined an amateur theatrical group, Clark met Irené Tapp (1901-1977), fifteen years his senior. They married in 1938, but shortly after separated. After their divorce, Clark paid maintenance to her for thirty three years. In 1951, he met divorcée Pearla Doris Odden, nine years his senior, and after obtaining agreement for a divorce from his first wife, married Odden in 1953. She "was involved in nearly all aspects of his book production" and was co-author on two of them. They divorced in 1973 (although continuing their collaboration, with Pearla also compensating for Clark's lack of domestic skills) in which year Clark married for the third time, to Elizabeth Allan Soutar, a younger Scottish woman from Elgin, Moray whom he had met as a guest at the home of friends in the country. She too contributed to her husband's writing career with "all the skills of an executive secretary" and acting as a valuable researcher for Clark.

Clark died on the 9th of March 1987, having suffered a stroke after treatment for "one of the severest cases of shingles his doctor had ever seen". He had in recent years also suffered from gout, which had taken a toll on his health.[4]

Selected worksEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Ronald William Clark, 1916-1987, John G. Slater, in Russell: The Journal of Bertrand Russell Studies, vol. 9, 1989, issue 1 (Summer 1989), pp. 43-56
  2. ^ Something About The Author, vol. 2, ed. Anne Commire, Gale Research Co., 1971, p. 60
  3. ^ Ronald William Clark, 1916-1987, John G. Slater, in Russell: The Journal of Bertrand Russell Studies, vol. 9, 1989, issue 1 (Summer 1989), pp. 43-56
  4. ^ Ronald William Clark, 1916-1987, John G. Slater, in Russell: The Journal of Bertrand Russell Studies, vol. 9, 1989, issue 1 (Summer 1989), pp. 43-56
  5. ^ Search AbeBooks

ReferencesEdit