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Clare Wright’s award-winning research challenges the myth that the Australian pub is a male domain, revealing the enduring and dynamic presence of female publicans behind the bar. Wright takes the reader on a pub crawl through this history: from Sarah Bird, the 27-year-old convict who was Australia’s first female licensee, to Big Poll the Grog Seller, the miners’ darling on the goldfields, to Cheryl Barassi and Dawn Fraser in recent years.
Handsomely illustrated and weaving oral history interviews, archival sources, folk songs, bush ballads and other popular literature throughout the narrative, this groundbreaking book exposes the remarkable visibility and dominance of women in Austalian hotel-keeping culture.
‘The discovery of such otherwise obscured truths is precisely what makes history so valuable and what makes the author of Ladies Lounge an outstanding historian.’
‘This is one of those simple ideas that illuminate the corners of history: Clare Wright’s detailed examination of the lot of the lady publican speaks volumes about the way women have negotiated private and professional life for the past 200 years.’
‘Beyond the Ladies Lounge is the product of extensive historical research, and the many interviews with young and not so young women publicans lend the sense of humane and genuine engagement with the subject matter. It is also a book that urges us to consider the complexity and nuances of history.’
‘Beyond the Ladies Lounge is an important contribution to Australian history…a fine scholarly work.’
‘Written with a novelist’s eye for detail, a comic’s sense of humour and a researcher’s devotion to the riches of the past, this story of female publicans in Australia is a necessary and welcome addition to our national culture and mythology.’