Writing Annie: Too Much Cabbage, Too Much Christ and Too Much Controversy

Photo by Clarisse Meyer on Unsplash

‘Why would you want to write about Annie Lock?’ I was asked. ‘She destroyed culture - she is not worth a biography’. Annie Lock was a white United Aborigines Mission faith missionary who worked across Australia for over thirty years in the early twentieth century, having an impact, for better and worse, wherever she went. She fought with Daisy Bates, shook hands with the Duke of Gloucester and took epic buggy rides across the desert to escape drought. She nursed the sick, fed the hungry, and recognised Aboriginal people as ‘human beans’ at a time when many did not. She blew the whistle on the 1928 Coniston Massacre. She also took children from their parents, had a strong sense of gendered and racial hierarchies, attempted to impose her own religious beliefs on others, pronounced definitively on Aboriginal culture and condoned Aboriginal men’s violence against Aboriginal women. In this paper I will discuss writing Too Much Cabbage and Jesus Christ, Australia’s ‘Mission Girl’ Annie Lock; a life of contradiction and controversy sitting at the nexus of multiple strands of Australian history. Biography is not just for telling worthy lives, nor for tearing down tall poppies: it can also tell difficult, complicated stories that need to be remembered. 

Dr Catherine Bishop is an ARC DECRA fellow at Macquarie Business School, researching 20th century Australian businesswomen. Too Much Cabbage and Jesus Christ: Australia’s Mission Girl Annie Lock (Wakefield, 2021) is her latest book and first biography, based on a ANU Masters thesis. Catherine received her PhD from ANU in 2012. Her first book Minding Her Own Business: Colonial Businesswomen in Sydney (NewSouth, 2015) won the 2016 Ashurst Business Literature Prize. Her second, Women Mean Business: Colonial Businesswomen in New Zealand (Otago University Press, 2019), was shortlisted for three prizes including the 2022 NZ Historical Association W.H. Oliver Prize. With Jennifer Aston, she co-edited Female Entrepreneurs in the Long Nineteenth Century: A Global Perspective (Palgrave, 2020). She is also writing a history of the New York Herald Tribune World Youth Forum (under contract with Indiana University Press). 

Join Zoom Meeting: https://anu.zoom.us/j/89150453744?pwd=RVg5U0xEcTNXTm9rL1pJR1FHaXlBUT09

Meeting ID: 891 5045 3744 Password: 037308

Date & time

Wed 24 Aug 2022, 4.15–5.30pm


RSSS Auditorium, Ground Floor (Level 1), RSSS Building, ANU, 146 Ellery Crescent, Acton, ACT 2601, and Online


Catherine Bishop


School of History


Filip Slaveski


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