Ann Beaglehole is a historian and novelist, and has worked variously as a historian, policy analyst, researcher, counsellor, and lecturer. Born in Hungary, she came to New Zealand as a little girl in 1956, and later attended Victoria University of Wellington, gaining an MA (with distinction) and PhD in History; she also graduated from Bill Manhire’s MA creative writing programme. Her historical work has focused on refugees, particularly those from Europe before and after World War II, and on Jews in New Zealand, and on women. She has published numerous essays and journal articles, and she has won a variety of distinguished awards and prizes, including the Goethe-Institute Scholarship as Cultural Ambassador in Berlin (2001), the Department of Internal Affairs Award in Oral History International Research Institute on Jewish Women at Brandeis University (2000), the New Zealand Founders’ Society Annual Research Award for historical research (1998), the New Zealand History Research Trust Fund Award in History (1993), the Claude McCarthy Fellowship, Victoria University of Wellington, and the F.P. Wilson Prize for New Zealand History (1986). In addition she was awarded a Research Fellowship at Swinburn University of Technology in Melbourne 2006/2007, and was also based at Victoria University of Wellington’s Stout Research Centre to research and write a book on public policy approaches to refugees and asylum seekers in New Zealand. In 2006 she was awarded the International Writers Residency at Ledig House, New York. Her 2002 novel, Replacement Girl, has been translated into Hungarian and published there in 2012. Her other titles include: Far From the Promised Land? Being Jewish in New Zealand (with Hal Levine); Women and Welfrae Work, 1893–1993 (with Penny Ehrhardt); Benefiting Women: Income support for women, 1893–1993; Facing the Past: Looking back at refugee childhood in New Zealand; and A Small Price to Pay: Refugees from Hitler in New Zealand, 1936–1946.
Reviewing Facing the Past, Beaglehole’s account of a refugee childhood in New Zealand, Theresa Sawicka in the Dominion Post pinpointed a common thread in Beaglehole’s writing: ‘the urge to connect with this unknown past and a need to make sense of it’.
Her novel, Replacement Girl, follows a young Hungarian woman retruning to Hungary in the 1970s, having come to 1950s New Zealand, one of a family of Jewish refugees leaving behind Nazi persecution and the oppression behind the Iron Curtain. Writing in the Weekend Herald, Penny Bieder said it is ‘written with a clever, light touch and a perceptive knowledge and memory of childhood born of close observation’. Sue Edmonds, of the Waikato Times, wrote: ‘I found this book almost painfully gripping to read, both because of the vividness of the style, but also because it so closely paralleled my own life experience as an immigrant of the 1950s, and my search for identity and a sense of belonging.’