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Price, Hugh. Papers

 Fonds — Multiple Containers
Identifier: prih

Scope and Contents

These Papers include material particularly related to Victoria University of Wellington. Other material has been deposited with the Alexander Turnbull Library.

The papers include records from Hugh Price's undergraduate and postgraduate time at Victoria University, and from his printing course in London. There are records relating to the 'Newsquote affair' and to the book 'The plot to subvert wartime New Zealand...'.

There are also papers relating to the establishment of Victoria University Press, and to the publication of works by Bruce Mason, whose literary archives are also held by this Library.


  • Creation: 1952 - 2004

Access and use

Access is freely available in the J.C.Beaglehole Room for research and private study. For any use beyond this, please contact the J.C.Beaglehole Room ( in the first instance.

Biographical/Historical note

Hugh Price was born on 13 July 1929 and educated in Masterton, attending Victoria University College 1948-1953 and Wellington Teachers' College 1950-1951. He graduated BA in 1951 and MA (History) in 1954, and was awarded a Teachers' 'B' Certificate in 1951.

During his time at university, Hugh was one of three postgraduates who reproduced articles from mainstream US newspapers in a modest fortnightly periodical titled 'Newsquote' (September 1952-September 1953). Hugh was also Secretary of the Socialist Club c1953-1954. In April 1953 the Police Special Branch declared 'Newsquote' to be 'communist propaganda' and the three young men to be 'security risks'. This misinformation, which was also spread to other security agencies, severely affected the lives of all three students.

While studying History MA courses with Prof. J C Beaglehole (who was at the time working on his books on Captain Cook), Hugh Price became interested in the business of preparing books for publication and following the 'Newsquote affair' he decided to follow this profession. Following graduation he worked for Whitcombe & Tombs first briefly in Wellington and then in London from ca.1954.

In 1956 he wrote as the London correspondent for the Auckland journal 'Here and Now'; he also attended evening courses at the Camberwell London School of Printing and the Graphic Arts.

He returned to New Zealand in 1956 to manage Modern Books, a small central city co-operative bokshop in Manners Street, Wellington. In 1957 he and his friend Jim Milburn founded Price Milburn, which was to become an influential publishing house in New Zealand education, culture and politics.

Around 1960, now married to Beverley Randell and with a small daughter (Susan), Hugh moved from Modern Books to a position as art editor and the School Publications Branch of the Department of Education. One project was for a new set of junior schol reading books, and this led to a highly successful series of supplementary reading books written by Beverley Price and published by PM.

In 1963 Hugh was appointed the founding Manager of Sydney University Press and moved to Australia for five years, but huge demand for the PM Story Books led the Price family to return to New Zealand to devote themselves to the publishing business. PM established an office in Boulcott Street, a warehouse in Petone, and a shop/depot in Upper Hutt, and produced general titles, New Zealand poetry and drama, music, and a huge number of junior reading books.

Changes in the companies PM worked with led to the sale of the company in the early 1980s (although in the early 1990s Price Milburn was sold again and the new management requested the reissuing of the hundreds of PM junior reading books).

In retirement from Price Milburn, Hugh Price devoted himself to other projects: the compilation of a bibliography of New Zealand educational books; the establishment of a small private publishing imprint (Gondwanaland Press); the founding of the Randell Cottage Writers Trust; and the authorship or editing of several books. These books have included: 'School books published in New Zealand to 1960' (1992); 'Know the new right' (1993); 'Beverley Randell: a checklist of books written by her, mainly for children, between 1955 and 1995' (1996); 'Old Masterton in colour' (2003); The plot to subvert wartime New Zealand' (2006); 'Old Wellington in colour' (2008). As well as his career in publishing Hugh Price was a collector throughout his life, in fields such as educational books, postcards, and audio recordings. He has had a lifelong interest in Civil Liberties and campaigned for the abolition of the death penalty and against apartheid in South Africa.

In August 2009 he was awarded a Doctor of Literature (Honoris Causa) degree by Victoria University of Wellington.


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Language of Materials


J C Beaglehole Room - archives and manuscripts
Edited Full Draft
Nicola Frean
Language of description
Script of description
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Language of description note
Finding aid is written inEnglish
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XML EAD edition

Repository Details

Part of the Tapuaka Heritage & Archive Collections - JC Beaglehole Reading Room, Victoria University of Wellington Library Repository

P O Box 3438
Wellington 6140 New Zealand
+64 4 4635681