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Monumental biography launched

12 September 2006

Monumental biography launched

A biography of one of New Zealand’s greatest historians and scholars, John Cawte (J.C.) Beaglehole, will be launched at his alma mater, Victoria University of Wellington, tomorrow (13 September).

A Life of J.C. Beaglehole: New Zealand Scholar, written by his son, Emeritus Professor Tim Beaglehole, and published by Victoria University Press, will be launched by the Minister for Tertiary Education, the Hon Dr Michael Cullen, in the Hunter Council Chamber at 5.30pm on Wednesday 13 September 2006.

A ‘dangerous young radical’ who spoke up for academic freedom and civil liberties during the Depression in the 1930s, J.C. Beaglehole (1901-1971) went on to become one of New Zealand’s greatest scholars.

He is recognised particularly for his contribution to international scholarship through his editing of the journals of Captain James Cook on his voyages of discovery, and for his biography of Cook. For this work, he was awarded the Order of Merit by Queen Elizabeth II, the first New Zealander to be so honoured since Ernest, Lord Rutherford.

J.C. Beaglehole also played a highly significant role in New Zealand’s intellectual and cultural life. Through his writing and work at Victoria University, and his involvement with New Zealand’s centennial celebrations and organisations such as the New Zealand Council for Civil Liberties and the New Zealand Historic Places Trust, he had a far reaching influence.

Emeritus Professor Beaglehole, is the University’s Chancellor, and has had a long association with Victoria University as a student, history department staff member, Weir House warden, Dean of Arts and Deputy Vice-Chancellor. He is a former deputy chairman of the National Art Gallery (1979-92) and chairman of the Historic Places Trust (1990-96).

Vice-Chancellor, Professor Pat Walsh, said the biography was a notable addition to the rich contribution the Beaglehole family had made to Victoria University.

“The Beaglehole family’s association with Victoria has seen five generations of students, four members of staff and several members of Council participate in its life. In particular recognition of J.C. Beaglehole’s contribution to Victoria, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Literature degree in 1968 and the special collections room in the Library was named after him.

“In the family tradition, Tim Beaglehole’s contribution is no less outstanding and with the publication of this biography, he has given us new insight into a person who played such an important part in our history.”

Media are welcome to attend the launch on Wednesday 13 September at 5.30pm, Hunter Council Chamber, Level 2, Hunter Building, Kelburn Parade.

ENDS

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