Blue and Yellow Modern Artisan Parties and Celebrations X-Frame Banner (22).png
Blue and Yellow Modern Artisan Parties and Celebrations X-Frame Banner (4).png

Minding Her Own Business: Sydney’s Early Entrepreneurs

Tuesday 18 January 4.30pm


And you thought 19th century Sydney was a man’s world, and a woman’s place was in the home? Think again. Just as they are today, women have always been in business. Sydney’s streets were awash with enterprising women - from demure dressmakers to bawdy brothelkeepers, with the odd ironmonger, plumber and confidence trickster thrown in. Award-winning historian Catherine Bishop explores the stories of these businesswomen – the sensible and successful as well as the bankrupts and bigamists.

Sydney’s businesswomen were a varied lot. Some went into business as widows, left to support half a dozen children when their spouses inconveniently dropped dead; others were life-long spinsters, perhaps rejoicing that their ability to support themselves meant they could avoid marriage. Many, however, were wives, working with their husbands or in independent businesses, or surviving their husbands’ intemperance, ineptitude or desertion. Whatever their circumstances these women and their stories challenge our understandings of Sydney’s history.

Dr Catherine Bishop is the author of Minding Her Own Business: Colonial Businesswomen in Sydney (winner 2016 Ashurst Business Literature Prize), Women Mean Business: Colonial Businesswomen in New Zealand (2019) and Too Much Cabbage and Jesus Christ: Australia’s ‘Mission Girl’ Annie Lock (2020). She coedited Female Entrepreneurs in the Long Nineteenth Century: A Global Perspective and is currently writing about a Cold War world youth forum and researching a history of Australia’s 20th century businesswomen.


Copies of Catherine’s books will be available for purchase at the event.


Enjoy a program about women in music. The Emeralds one of Australia’s leading viol consorts play Elizabethan and contemporary music on a trio of violas da gamba. A highlight is Brooke Green’s The Spirit of Daphne which is a musical portrayal of Daphne’s psyche as she flees the unwelcome advances of Apollo by turning into a laurel tree. This will be performed by the brilliantly, passionate bass viol player Laura Vaughan.

Please note: This is an outside courtyard, all weather event. Please bring appropriate clothing/umbrellas.

Doors open at 4.30pm with a welcome complimentary cocktail.

Guests are invited to stay on to enjoy quality eats and drinks from the Sily bar. 


General Tickets:$65

Member Tickets: $55 (save 15%)