Shopping for pleasure? : female leisure, fashion and independence in Wellington, 1850-1910 : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts (History) at Massey University, New Zealand
The importance of shopping as a leisure pursuit and its impact on the ability of women to enter public spaces in the Victorian city has been recognised in recent years with a number of studies in Europe and America. This thesis will examine how far the women of Wellington, New Zealand enjoyed the opportunity to spend time and money in the developing department stores of the capital city. Furthermore, along the lines of Erika Rappaport it will consider whether shopping was emancipating or detrimental to women's quest for independence. The growth of large retail stores in Wellington and the various ways in which they attracted the female shopper has not been fully considered by historians at this stage and this thesis explores this growth and contends that it was widely equivalent to that in Europe and America. Looking at primary evidence including diaries, letters, newspapers and literature the study will analyse how the privileged women of Wellington spent their time, and how the public space of the shop allowed them to extend the boundaries of their world. It is hoped that examining this under studied aspect of women’s leisure pursuits will add to the literature on social and gender history in New Zealand.