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Catherine Bishop

Women Mean Business

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New Zealand's nineteenth-century towns were full of entrepreneurial women.

Contrary to what we might expect, colonial women were not only wives and mothers or domestic servants. A surprising number ran their own businesses, supporting themselves and their families, sometimes in productive partnership with husbands, but in other cases compensating for a spouse's incompetence, intemperance, or absence.

The pages of this book overflow with the stories of hard-working milliners and dressmakers, teachers, boarding-house keepers, and more. Then, as now, there was no "typical" businesswoman. Their businesses could be wild successes or dismal failures, lasting just a few months or a lifetime. In this fascinating and entertaining book, Dr. Catherine Bishop showcases many of the individual businesswomen whose efforts, collectively, contributed so much to the making of urban life in New Zealand.


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