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Anna Clarke

South Africa (1919 - 2004)

Anna Emilia Clarke was born in Cape Town, South Africa, on April 28, 1919, and died in Brighton in 2004.

Her father, Fred Clarke, was a renowned educationist who was later knighted. She was education in South Africa and then Canada. She studied economics in London in 1945 and completed a degree in 19th Century English literature at Sussex. She was one of the first students to do an arts course at the Open University. She also gained a masters from Sussex for her research into Victorian publishing.

Miss Clarke, who moved to Franklin Road, Brighton, in 1964, married German-Jewish refugee David Hackel in 1947 but the marriage was dissolved ten years later. Her life was plagued by agoraphobia and anxiety from a young age. Miss Clarke told The Argus in 1979 she only felt totally secure in her office, which also served as her bedroom and lounge.

Her fears cost her a career in mathematics and she had a major breakdown when she tried to attend university. She told The Argus: "I was scared to walk the five minutes from home to college and when I got back I used to hang about the front door for ages because I was scared of being inside alone." She did not like driving alone for any distance, hated lifts and the London Underground. Miss Clarke believed her fear stemmed from her childhood in which she travelled extensively and was violently ill. She blamed her phobias on these nightmare journeys. She decided to try to beat her illness in 1979 and managed to gain some freedom from her anxiety but she always refused to fly and travelled to her publisher's New York office on the QEII.

Once Miss Clarke conquered the worst of her fears she used her experience to pen her mystery-thrillers. Her first was The Darkened Room, published in 1968. She often wrote her novels sitting on park benches in Brighton. One of her novels, Legacy Of Evil, released in 1976, was set in Brighton.
 

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