Mary Gaunt

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Mary Gaunt
Mary Gaunt. Image from her book, Alone in West Africa, published in 1912
Mary Gaunt. Image from her book, Alone in West Africa, published in 1912
Born Mary Eliza Bakewell Gaunt
(1861-02-20)20 February 1861
Chiltern, Victoria
Died 19 January 1942(1942-01-19) (aged 80)
Cannes, France
Language English
Nationality Australian
Years active 1887-1938

Mary Eliza Bakewell Gaunt (20 February 1861 – 19 January 1942) was an Australian novelist.


Mary was the eldest daughter of William Henry Gaunt, a Victorian county court judge and Elizabeth Palmer, and was born in Chiltern, Victoria. She was educated at Grenville College, Ballarat and the University of Melbourne, being one of the first two women students to enroll there. She began writing for the press and in 1894 published her first novel Dave's Sweetheart. In the same year she married Dr Hubert Lindsay Miller (a widower) of Warrnambool, Victoria. He died in 1900, and, with only a small income, Gaunt (now also known as Mrs Mary Miller) went to London intending to earn a living by her writing. Gaunt left Melbourne on 15 March 1901.

Gaunt had difficulties at first but eventually established herself, and was able to travel in the West Indies, in West Africa, and in China and other parts of the East. Her experiences were recorded in five pleasantly written travel books: Alone in West Africa (1912), A Woman in China (1914), A Broken Journey (1919), Where the Twain Meet (1922), Reflection - in Jamaica (1932). In 1929 she also published George Washington and the Men Who Made the American Revolution. Between 1895 and 1934, 16 novels or collections of short stories were published, mostly with love and adventure interests. Three other novels were written in collaboration with John Ridgwell Essex. A collection of interviews with Mary were published in the 1925 Girls' Own Annual under the headings "Pioneering for Women" parts I, II, and III, and "Strange Journeys I Have Made".

From the early 1920s, Gaunt lived mostly at Bordighera, Italy. In 1940 she fled Italy and died at Cannes in 1942. She had no children.

Sister Lucy, brothers Cecil, Clive, Guy and Ernest were both Admirals of the Royal Navy, and Guy later became a Conservative Member of Parliament.



  • Dave's Sweetheart (1894)
  • Kirkham's Find (1897)
  • Deadman's: An Australian Story (1898)
  • Mistress Betty Carew (1903)
  • The Arm of the Leopard: A West African Story (1904) [with John Ridgwell Essex]
  • Fools Rush In (1906) [with John Ridgwell Essex]
  • The Silent Ones (1909) [with John Ridgwell Essex]
  • The Mummy Moves (1910)
  • The Uncounted Cost (1910)
  • Every Man's Desire (1913)
  • A Wind from the Wilderness (1919)
  • As the Whirlwind Passeth (1923)
  • The Forbidden Town (1926)
  • Saul's Daughter (1927)
  • The Lawless Frontier (1929)
  • Joan of the Pilchard (1930)
  • Harmony: A Tale of the Old Slave Days of Jamaica (1933)
  • Worlds Away (1934)


  • Bingley's Gap (1888)
  • Down in the World (1893)[1]
  • The Other Man (1894) [2]

Short story collections[edit]

  • The Moving Finger (1895)
  • The Ends of the Earth : Stories (1915)
  • The Surrender and Other Happenings (1920)
  • Life at Deadman's : Stories of Colonial Victoria (2001)


  • Alone in West Africa (1912)
  • A Woman in China (1914)
  • A Broken Journey: Wanderings from the Hoang-Ho to Saghalien (1919)


  • Where the Twain Meet (1922) - travel
  • Peeps at Great Men : George Washington and the Men Who Made the American Revolution (1929) - children's
  • Reflection in Jamaica (1932) - travel


  1. ^ Serialised in The Australasian 23 Dec 1893, page 1S Retrieved 7 June 2014.
  2. ^ Serialised in The Argus 13 Oct 1894, page 11 Retrieved 7 June 2014.

External links[edit]