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Women Mean Business: Colonial businesswomen in Nelson and beyond

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Date/ Time: Tuesday, October 8, 2019 5.30pm – 6.30pm

Location: Nelson Provincial Museum (270 Trafalgar Street, Nelson)

‘The greatest comefort to me is to get an honest living for my familey’. Boarding-house-keeper Susannah Wall’s words in 1845 echo the sentiments of many colonial women in New Zealand throughout the nineteenth century. Like Susannah, many of them ran small businesses, though not all were as concerned about the ‘honesty’ of the living they got.

Nineteenth-century Nelson was home to a plethora of entrepreneurial women, including a multitude of milliners, a crowd of corner shop proprietors and even a butcher (Ann Bird) and Australasia’s first female chemist, Clara Macshane.

Image credit: Miss Mima (Jemima) Potto. Harding, William James, 1826 – 1899: Negative of Whanganui district, Alexander Turnbull Library, 1/4-008879-G

In this talk Catherine Bishop, author of Women Mean Business: Colonial businesswomen in New Zealand (Otago University Press), explores the stories of some of New Zealand’s colonial entrepreneurs – the successful and the outright failures, the heart-warming and the tragic, the everyday and the scandalous. 

Born and raised in Whanganui, Dr Catherine Bishop is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Macquarie University in Sydney. Her first book Minding Her Own Business: Colonial Businesswomen in Sydney (NewSouth Publishing, 2015) won the prestigious 2016 Ashurst Business Literature Prize. This is her second book.

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