Scandals and Successes: The Forgotten Businesswomen of Sydney’s Past

Why has history all-but forgotten the colourful, female entrepreneurs of Sydney and the Blue Mountains’ past?
Find out more at our author talk on Saturday 23 July, Springwood – details below.

Some of the most intriguing and influential women at the heart of Sydney’s colonial economy have been all but written-out of the history books. In a fascinating talk offered by Blue Mountains Library and The Turning Page Bookshop on Saturday 23 July, author Catherine Bishop will expose the double-lives, secrets, scandals and successes of the many extraordinary women whose efforts, at the helm of a multitude of small businesses, were at the heart of the colonial economy

History has well-recorded Sydney’s male entrepreneurs; we remember Mark Foy of the Hydro Majestic but the names of Harriet Corston and Elizabeth Ellis, the remarkable and scandalous women who ran the hotel (then the Belgravia) before him, are almost unknown. David Jones and Anthony Hordern of department store-fame are familiar but Eliza Way, Ann Hordern and Caroline Farmer are mostly forgotten yet they too founded department store empires in Sydney.

Belgravia Hotel Medlow Bath c.1908

In this talk Catherine Bishop delves into the colourful history of these female entrepreneurs of 19th century Sydney and the Blue Mountains – the milliners and dressmakers, brothel keepers and publicans, as well as the plumbers and pawnbrokers – who helped Sydney become the city it is today. Prepare to meet the eminently respectable businesswomen and some of the more disreputable con-women who plied their trade on the city streets.

Catherine Bishop is an historian at the Australian Catholic University and the author of Minding Her Own Business: Colonial Businesswomen in Sydney. The talk will take place at the Blue mountains Theatre and Community Hub, Springwood at 2pm. Tickets are $10 and include afternoon tea. Available online here, at any Library branch or at The Turning Page Bookshop.

Photo: Old car and group outside old Belgravia 1908. Courtesy Blue Mountains Library Local Studies.



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