Clare’s debut book, Beyond the Ladies Lounge (Melbourne University Publishing, 2003, 2004), was a popular and critical success. It was on the Readings best seller list and sold out its first print run in six months. The book challenges the myth of the Australian pub as a male domain by documenting the leading role of women in the hotel industry from colonial times to the present. Beyond the Ladies Lounge was republished by Text in 2014.
“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.” Mandy Sayer, The Australian, 6 December 2014.
“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." - Tony Smith, Australian Quarterly, 2003
“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." - Michelle Griffin,The Age, 15 November 2003
“Beyond the Ladies Lounge presents fresh insights into the Aussie pub, that cultural icon so much a part of our life and consciousness. Beyond the Ladies Lounge is anything but a dry argument, thanks largely to Wright’s interviews with numerous women publicans. Larger than life characters all of them, they give vibrancy and colour to the book and, for Wright, opened the doors to the world beyond the lounge." - Kay Sullivan, The Age, 23 September 2003
“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." - Gary Clark, Quadrant, 1 March 2004
“Beyond the Ladies Lounge is a thoroughly engaging, mercifully jargon-free, passionate yet intelligent cultural history of the female publican in Australia … Her imaginative, witty prose makes the book a pleasure to read." -Professor Rae Francis, Australian Public Intellectual Network Review of Books, March 2004
“Beyond the Ladies Lounge offers a rich and important account of what women were doing in the public houses that were central in the development of white Australian society … Wright makes an important contribution to rethinking historical accounts of the development of the Australian nation and the role of the pub in understanding the Australian character." - Dr Jane Maree Maher, Monash University
“Beyond the Ladies Lounge is an important contribution to Australian history … a fine scholarly work." - Aviva Tuffield, Australian Book Review, December 2003
“There is not a lot that can be said that is critical about this book." - Dr Shirleene Robinson, British Australian Studies Association, March 2006
“[In] Clare Wright’s stylish cultural history of female publicans… Wright has combed through archival sources and sat at the bar with female publicans, gleaning fascinating insights into the gender politics of the pub on the most micro level … a model of clear and exciting historical writing." - Dr Michelle Arrow, Macquarie University, The Australian Journal of Politics and History, September 2004