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Maria Gandy was companion to South Australia’s first Surveyor-General and founder of Adelaide, Colonel William Light. She was referred to publicly as his housekeeper and privately, as his mistress. Their relationship led to Maria’s ostracism from so-called polite society.  

After Colonel Light’s death, she married Dr George Mayo and bore four children. Speculation remains about what brought them together. Was she rescued by George or did she rescue him right back?

Who was Maria Gandy? Why was she buried in an unmarked grave? And why was she almost written out of history? This program uses diaries, letters, and images from the State Library collections to answer these questions and raise a few more.


This presentation was recorded as part of the State Library's Live and Learn program on 16 May 2023.

Presenter: Isabel Story, Librarian, State Library of South Australia