Marcus Clarke’s Chidiock Tichbourne


The Tichborne case provided Marcus Clarke with the material of John Rex's impersonation of Richard Devine in His Natural Life. Arthur Orton, a butcher from Wagga Wagga, had claimed to be the long lost Roger Tichborne and Lady Tichborne was convinced that he indeed was her son. His case to prove his identity and entitlement to the estate collapsed in 1872, and at a further trial in 1874 he was convicted of perjury. His Natural Life exploited the publicity accorded the trial by offering a certain roman a clef interest. And for his next novel, Chidiock Tichbourne, Clarke picked up the Tichborne name —no doubt hoping it would lure readers. Possibly Clarke himself had been lured by it while browsing through Isaac D'Israeli's Curiosities of Literature. For D'Israeli's item on the sixteenth century Catholic conspirator was clearly the historical basis for Clarke's romance.

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Published 1 October 1974 in Volume 6 No. 4. Subjects: Literary portrayal, Writer's research & sources, Marcus Clarke.

Cite as: Wilding, Michael. ‘Marcus Clarke’s Chidiock Tichbourne.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 6, no. 4, 1974, doi: 10.20314/als.f35bea357f.