Mary Gaunt

Mary Gaunt was an Australian author who wrote articles, short stories, novels and travel books.

Honour Roll

Her early work was set in Australia and much of it dealt with the goldfields of the Woolshed and Indigo diggings. Born in 1861 in Victoria, Mary was the daughter of William Gaunt, a Victorian Gold Commissioner and grew up in Chiltern, Beechworth, Sale and Ballarat.

When admission to Melbourne University was granted to women in 1881 Mary Gaunt was one of the first to enrol. After one year at University she began writing and in the next six years published three novels and a collection of short stories. One of the novels, "Kirkham's Find", was republished by Penguin in 1988. She was married in 1894 to Dr. Hubert Lindsay however he became ill and died in 1900, leaving Mary a widow at 39.

Mary left for England in 1901 and on her departure Melbourne's Table Talk called her, "one of the best known and successful of Victorian authoresses". After London, she travelled extensively in West Africa and China producing several successful travel books as a result. During World War I she lived in England for a time, then moved to the Italian Riviera.

When the Second World War broke out, Mary who had been living on the Ligurian coast of Italy for twenty years was forced to leave her home there and cross into France. As a refugee trying to flee France, she lost all her writings, unpublished manuscripts and belongings. She died in Cannes, France in 1942.

Mary said of herself that if she had been born a man she would have become a sailor, like her brothers. She instead became a writer, an independent woman and an adventurous traveller.