Historian Beaglehole’s letters now available

7 November 2013: Historian Beaglehole’s letters now available

A wonderful insight into New Zealand’s cultural life in the middle decades of last century is revealed in Professor John Cawte Beaglehole’s letters now available at the Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington.

The donation of letters by his son Professor Tim Beaglehole coincides with the publication of a selection of Beaglehole’s letters in a new book released this week by Victoria University Press: 'I think I am becoming a New Zealander’: Letters of J.C.Beaglehole, chosen and edited by Professor Beaglehole.

“Beaglehole was a prolific correspondent, with family, friends, colleagues in New Zealand and around the world, and his letters are eloquent, entertaining and very readable,” says David Colquhoun, Curator of Manuscripts at the Alexander Turnbull Library.

“They really do give a wonderful insight into New Zealand’s cultural life in the middle decades of last century.

“Beaglehole is perhaps New Zealand’s best-known historian known for his pioneering work about James Cook. His Life of Cook remains the definitive biography of the great navigator. He also edited Cook’s journals of his voyages, and those of Joseph Banks, the scientist on Cook’s first Pacific voyage.

“Beaglehole was also a pioneering scholar of New Zealand history, and took a deep interest in art, music and literature, both as a writer and as an advocate on behalf of cultural institutions.

“Among his many other achievements he was a leading figure in the campaign to establish New Zealand’s national archives in the 1950s, and in the successful campaign to prevent the destruction of Old St Paul’s.

“Professor Beaglehole has published a well-reviewed biography of his father and the new book is a selection of his father’s letters. Together the book and letters will be a rich source of information for future historians.”

The book is being launched at the Alexander Turnbull Library on Thursday 7 November, and a display case featuring some of the letters can be seen on the first floor of the National Library building in Molesworth Street.

Read more about J C Beaglehole


Professor Tim Beaglehole: 04 977 1843

David Colquhoun, Curator of Manuscripts, Alexander Turnbull Library: 04 474 3153

Christine Seymour, Department of Internal Affairs Communications: 04 495 7298