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Minding Her Own Business: Colonial Businesswomen in Sydney

a completely new and deeply human story, which will radically reshape our understanding of nineteenth century colonial cities, business history, women and gender.
Grace Karskens, University of New South Wales

Minding Her Own Business

Colonial Businesswomen in Sydney

2016 Ashurst Business Literature Prize Winner

A history that populates the streets of colonial Sydney with entrepreneurial businesswomen earning their living in a variety of small – and sometimes surprising – enterprises.


From milliners and dressmakers to ironmongers and booksellers; from publicans and boarding-house keepers to butchers and taxidermists; from school teachers to ginger-beer manufacturers: these women have been hidden in the historical record but were visible to their contemporaries.


There are few memorials to colonial businesswomen, but if you know where to look, you can find many traces of their presence as you wander the streets of Sydney. This book brings the stories of these entrepreneurial women to life, with fascinating details of their successes and failures, their determination and wilfulness, their achievements, their tragedies and the occasional juicy scandal. Until now we have imagined colonial women indoors – as wives and mothers, domestic servants or sometimes prostitutes. This book sets them firmly out in the open. See Catherine's article about the book on the NewSouth Publishing website.


Published by NewSouth Publishing in October 2015. Launched by Professor the Hon. Kristina Keneally, Director of Gender Inclusion, Macquarie Graduate School of Management on 16 October 2015 at Gleebooks. Order the book or find booksellers here.




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Read More

Take A 'Virtual Walk' down Pitt Street in 1858 and discover the Women of Pitt Street



Read about one of Sydney's long-lasting female-owned businesses here 



May 15 2017: Interview on ABC Radio Nightlife

April 12 2017: Late Night Live Interview with Phillip Adams Australia's Earliest Businesswomen

April 7 2017: Interview on ABC Radio Sydney Breakfast Breaking Through the Sandstone Ceiling
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