Born in Melbourne, Australia, and of Scandinavian and Dutch ancestry, Clark was educated at Mont Albert Central School and the Presbyterian Ladies' College in East Melbourne. Her father was Augustin Lodewyckx, the Associate Professor of Germanic languages at Melbourne University, and her mother - Anna Sophia (née Hansen) - also taught Swedish at Melbourne University. Clark finished Presbyterian Ladies College early (aged 15) and spent time at school in Munich, with her mother, in 1933. Returning to Melbourne, she studied languages to honours level at Melbourne University, where she met Manning Clark. In 1938, she travelled to Bonn on a scholarship to undertake doctoral studies in German literature. She was there when Kristallnacht occurred, and left soon after with the increasing threat of war. She met Manning Clark in Oxford, marrying him there on 31 January 1939, and they ultimately had six children.NLA News, April 2005: Dymphna Clark—A Portrait<!-- Bot generated title --> She taught at Blundell's School in Devon in the first year of her marriage and they returned to Australia in 1940.
Clark became a distinguished linguist and translator, fluent in eight languages and able to speak another four. She lectured in German at the Australian National University in Canberra. Her translations included the botanist Charles von Hugel's New Holland Journals and, with Peter Sack, the German reports of the Governor of German New Guinea from 1886 to 1914. She also worked on her husband's projects, undertaking editing and research.
She established Manning Clark House (Dympha and Manning's own house from 1953), and was heavily involved in the Aboriginal Treaty Committee (1979-1983); it was she who drafted the Council's preamble for review by Parliament.MCH-Manning & Dymphna Clark short biography<!-- Bot generated title -->Click here to hide this biography