Magda Clarke was born in 1916 in Cape Town of English parents, but has spent most of her life in England. Her love of painting and drawing is lifelong. On leaving school, she reluctantly abandoned hopes of studying art at the Ruskin Art School in preference to a degree in History at St. Hilde's College (1935-1938) followed by a London postgraduate teaching diploma. After a brief spell in teaching, much of her working life was spent in the London offices of the British Council with short spells in educational publishing and instructional films. Her spare time was devoted to painting and on retirement she focused on Botanical Art.