Mark McKenna’s analysis of Manning Clark’s Kristallnacht episode (The Monthly, March 2007) – in which he shows that Clark was not in Bonn on Kristallnacht, that he arrived a couple of weeks later, but that in ensuing years he appropriated his fiancée Dymphna’s experience and account and made it his own without any attribution – may be further illuminated, given another dimension, if we look more closely not at Clark, who, as McKenna shows, wasn’t there, but at Dymphna, who was.
Manning Clark and the beautiful and brilliant Hilma Dymphna Lodewyckx (it rhymes with ‘motor bikes’, as she would amiably tutor anyone struggling with the plethora of consonants) would have seen each other at their first undergraduate lecture at Melbourne University – Latin 1. They did not meet then or in any subsequent Latin 1 class because the standard was so low – designed to help non-language students meet the language requirement for the degree of Bachelor of Arts – that neither felt the need to return. But they came across each other later, and their friendship flowered as they discovered mutual interests and passions.
Dymphna, born on 18 December 1916, was the daughter of Associate Professor Augustin Lodewyckx, who taught Germanic languages at Melbourne University, and Anna Sophia (née Hansen). She had one brother, six years older, and she became something of an only child when her brother began to lead a more independent existence (Dymphna once remarked that he suddenly became interested in her when she began to attract a coterie of girlfriends). She was the darling of her proud parents, and her extraordinary intellectual promise, her physical beauty and her attractive, powerful personality led them to expect great things of her. These she duly delivered, matriculating at fifteen from Presbyterian Ladies College and spending some time at school in Germany before entering Melbourne University to study languages.