T. E. B. Clarke
Thomas Ernest Bennett Clarke
7 June 1907
Watford, Hertfordshire, England, UK
|Died||11 February 1989 (aged 81)|
Surrey, England, UK
|Spouse||Joyce Caroline Steele (1932–1983)|
|Relatives||Dudley Clarke (older brother)|
|Awards||Best Story and Screenplay |
1952 The Lavender Hill Mob
Thomas Ernest Bennett "Tibby" Clarke, OBE (7 June 1907 – 11 February 1989) was a film screenwriter who wrote several of the Ealing Studios comedies.
Clarke's scripts always feature careful logical development from a slightly absurd premise to a farcical conclusion. In 1952, he was awarded a Best Original Screenplay Oscar for his script for The Lavender Hill Mob, making him one of just a handful of Britons to receive this award. He continued to work as a scriptwriter after Ealing ceased production, his later contributions including Sons and Lovers and the Disney film The Horse Without a Head.
Clarke was also a novelist and writer of non-fiction, but presented at least one fictional work as fact. His book Murder at Buckingham Palace (1981) purports to tell the story of a hushed-up murder in the Royal residence in 1935. Despite its including 'documentary' photographs, there is no external evidence that the book is anything but pure fiction. For The Blue Lamp (1950) he drew on his experience as a war reserve constable with the Metropolitan Police during the Second World War.
He was awarded the OBE in 1952. He was the subject of This Is Your Life in 1960 when he was surprised by Eamonn Andrews at the BBC Television Theatre.
Clarke was born in Watford on 7 June 1907. His father, Ernest Clarke, had been raised in Hull, moving to South Africa in the late 19th century. He was enlisted to carry dispatches for the Jameson Raid though, avoiding imprisonment, managed to obtain a job working for a gold mining company. Ernest then married Madeline Gardiner, with whom he raised three children. The eldest child was Dudley Clarke, who would later become a pioneer of military deception operations during the Second World War. A girl, Dollie, followed.
The gold mining company Ernest had been working for then offered him an opportunity to move to their London office, enabling him to return to England with his young family. They sailed from South Africa, the first ship to leave the country following the end of the Boer War. Upon arriving in England, Ernest purchased a house in Watford, where Madeline gave birth to their third and final child, Thomas Ernest Bennett Clarke.