On their own in a 'man’s world': widows in business in colonial New Zealand and Australia’

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Catherine Bishop examines the strategies used by nineteenth-century Australian and New Zealand widows. Widowhood was common, and not limited to the elderly, meaning that women had to find ways of making a living. Surprisingly, perhaps, remarriage was less common for widows than for widowers. Repatriation back to family and friends was one possibility for recent immigrants, but business was also a popular option, particularly as many women were already involved either in family enterprises or in their own businesses. Bishop outlines the variety of enterprises run by widows, illustrating the ubiquity of businesswomen in the colonial economy. They included Indigenous women and white settler women widowed in the colonies as well as several who migrated independently, upsetting our notions of male-headed migration.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFemale entrepreneurs in the long nineteenth century
Subtitle of host publicationa global perspective
EditorsJennifer Aston, Catherine Bishop
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages25
ISBN (Electronic)9783030334123
ISBN (Print)9783030334116
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Publication series

NamePalgrave Studies in Economic History
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
ISSN (Print)2662-6497
ISSN (Electronic)2662-6500


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