Margaretha Wolters, also known as Marguerite Wolters, was an intriguing figure in 18th-century espionage. Her clandestine activities appear to have played a pivotal role in shaping British decisions during that era. Amazingly she appeared to have run a European espionage network, first with her husband but after his death on her own. She was born, married and died in Rotterdam.

Kate Fullagar, a social and cultural historian, has been awarded the 2024 Hazel Rowley Literary Fellowship for her proposed biography titled “The Secret Life of Marguerite Wolters”. This biography delves into the mysterious world of Marguerite Wolters, who operated as a spy mistress. Her espionage work is believed to have significantly influenced the British decision in 1786 to establish a penal colony in New South Wales12.

It’s fascinating to consider that this Dutch woman played such a crucial role in British political history. Kate Fullagar’s research promises to shed light on a lesser-known aspect of Australian history, revealing that a woman was one of the chief architects behind British colonial expansionism. We eagerly await further insights from her biography!

SBS Dutch Radio Interview (in English): Margaretha Wolters; de Nederlandse ‘M’ die de Britten deed doen besluiten een strafkolonie te stichten in NSW (Margaretha Wolters; the Dutch ‘M’ that made the British decide to establish a penal colony in NSW)