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ANNIE LOCK: missionary


Too Much Cabbage and Jesus Christ: Australia's 'Mission Girl' Annie Lock.

 published by Wakefield Press

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Who was responsible for the 1928 Coniston Massacre in Central Australia where a police party killed 100 Aboriginal people? Not those who pulled the trigger, according to the Enquiry. Instead it was 'a woman missionary living amongst naked blacks'. This was Annie Lock, the 'whistle-blower' who caused the Enquiry.

She believed Aboriginal lives mattered, with controversial results. This biography dives into massacres, stolen generations and the thorny problem of Aboriginal missions.

A faith missionary, Annie Lock fought with Daisy Bates, met the Duke of Gloucester and inspired R.M. Williams. She was shipwrecked in a pearling lugger, drove a buggy 200 miles across desert to escape drought, produced Christmas puddings in 40-degree heat, nursed sore-ridden children, hit headlines for supposedly being 'Happy to Marry a Black', and pronounced on Aboriginal culture and policy with erratic spelling but genuine conviction.

More problematically, she 'saved' souls, 'rescued' children, eroded culture and condoned Aboriginal men beating their wives.

A strident and divisive figure, Annie Lock was appealingly eccentric but horrifyingly complicit in Australia's worst policies. Indigenous people variously called her 'lovely' and the provider of 'too much cabbage and Jesus Christ'.

what people are saying about 
Too Much Cabbage:


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'A terrific book - lively, informative, engaging. Strikes the right note of uncertainty about how we should now feel about humanitarianism such as Lock's.' - Professor Tim Rowse 
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'For too long Annie Lock has been a mere footnote in Australian history. We should all be grateful to Cath Bishop, her nuanced research and beautiful prose reveals not only Annie but her many proteges, friends, and subjects. This book deserves a wide audience.' - Professor Lynette Russell AM
'A poignant story, told with sensitivity and finesse. Cath Bishop has a gift for illuminating big issues with compelling narratives. In this biography of the missionary, Annie Lock, she simultaneously recounts an eccentric life and probes the clash of cultures that underlies modern Australia. Lively storytelling, astute characterisation and incisive analysis combine in this retrieval of the career of a fiercely independent woman and her relationships with the Aboriginal people whose nurturing she pursued as her God-given duty. Subtle yet powerful, this is historical biography at its best.' - Professor Russell McGregor
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This  book updated research I did for my Masters' thesis at the Australian National University in 1991: 'A Woman Missionary Living Amongst Naked Blacks: Annie Lock 1876-1943’. 

I was a State Library of NSW Australian Religious History Fellow in 2016 and in 2018 an Australian Research Theology Foundation grant funded a research trip to Central Australia.


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