The Leakey family are among the "aristocracy" of archaeology - justly famous for their work in Africa. Mary Leakey was the wife of Louis Leakey, working with him for many years at Olduvai Gorge, and the mother of Richard Leakey, who also went on to become a famous archaeologist.
She had an interest in archaeology from an early age, but had an unconventional education, so was unable to go to university. However, she attended lectures on archaeology, and studied under Mortimer Wheeler at the London Museum. He accepted her to work on her first dig, at St Albans. She also worked for Dorothy Liddell at Hembury, a Neolithic site, where she worked for four years, until 1934.
She met Louis Leakey when she was hired to illustrate his book Adam's Ancestors.
They spent much of their time, after they married, working on sites in Kenya and Tanzania, including Olduvai Gorge and Laetoli, where they brought up their children Jonathan, Richard and Philip. These sites are of immense importance in the study of early hominids.
She died in Nairobi in 1996, at the age of 83.
Here she is, with a cast of the famous footprints found at Laetoli, made by an early hominid classified as Australopithicus afarensis, around 3 million years ago: