Granny Smith (1799-1870) lived only a couple of years after discovering some sports from a discarded French crab apple in her garden in Sydney. It was cultivated by local orchardists for the next twenty years, and in the 1890s was taken up by a wider public.
It is the perfect snacking apple... provided that it is crisp and sharp; and alas it all too often isn't. A floury Granny Smith is a travesty of what it should be. I resent seeing the supermarkets full of Pink Lady apples airfreighted in from New Zealand, or Washington state, when I live so close to Kent, the garden of England. Why don't we get more English varieties on English shelves? It's one of the few fruits we can do well. But Granny Smiths all the way from South Africa: fine by me! Wherever they come from, I'll have them. Yum.
Maria Ann Sherwood was born in Peasmarsh in Sussex in 1799, and married an agricultural labourer Thomas Smith. They, their five surviving children, and numerous other people from the Peasmarsh area emigrated to New South Wales in 1838 aboard the Lady Nugent, arriving in Sydney on 27 November. They worked until by 1855 they could afford to buy land of their own, in Eastwood, now part of the City of Ryde, one of Sydney's municipalities, but then an orcharding district. These days there is a Granny Smith Memorial Park to mark where the farm boundary was. Mrs Smith is possibly Eastwood's most famous inhabitant.
In 1868 a local grower and his son, called Edwin Small, were asked by Maria Smith to identify a seedling apple variety she had found on her farm. Small was interviewed for an article in the Farmer and Settler in 1924, which is where this story of the famous apple's discovery was first recorded. Granny Smith died on 9 March 1870, her husband in 1876, and their two sons sold their blocks in 1880 and 1892.
In 1890 the variety known as Smith's seedlings was exhibited; under the name Granny Smith's seedlings it won a prize in 1891; and its fame began to spread. In 1895 the New South Wales government began to use it for large-scale cultivation and export.
There is an annual Granny Smith Festival in Ryde each October.
Most websites just take in each other's washing telling the basic story, but the definitive place to look is the City of Ryde's site at http://www.ryde.nsw.gov.au/ryde/msherwood.htm, which has a picture of the lady herself.
I was rather startled to find this in the Google results: "In November, the Granny Smith mine in Australia began processing...", and to then find it linked to wallaby production. But on closer inspection it's just a gold mine.