From Kaitaia in Northland to Oban on Stewart Island, 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, absence - or all three. The pages of this book overflow with the stories of hard-working milliners and dressmakers, teachers, boarding-house keepers and laundresses, colourful publicans, brothelkeepers and travelling performers, along with the odd taxidermist, bootmaker and butcher - and Australasia's first woman chemist. Then, as now, there was no typical' businesswoman. They were middle and working class; young and old; Maori and Pakeha ; single, married, widowed and sometimes bigamists. Their businesses could be wild successes or dismal failures, lasting just a few months or a lifetime. In this fascinating and entertaining book, award-winning historian Dr Catherine Bishop showcases many of the individual businesswomen whose efforts, collectively, contributed so much to the making of urban life in New Zealand.