The Life of Captain James Cook
Nearly forty years ago J. C. Beaglehole said he was going to write the life of Cook: the preliminary step—and how lightly that was once viewed—would be a new and scholarly edition of the Journals. Preliminary, perhaps; in the event this called for twenty years' work. In July 1967, a few months after his retirement from the Chair of British Commonwealth History at Victoria University of Wellington, he began the first chapter of the life. In the next two years there were long interruptions while he gave lectures for Cook bicentenary celebrations in Britain, New Zealand and Australia. The last page was written on 26 March 1971. At the time of his death, on 10 October 1971, he was revising the typescript and had reached the middle of chapter XIX.
This biography, the summation of a lifetime's study of Pacific exploration, is the writing towards which my father's whole work as an historian was directed. His devotion to the eighteenth century, his antipodean wit, his recreating imagination, his fascination with the Pacific—over so much of which he was to travel in Cook's tracks from Nootka Sound in the north to Dusky Bay in the south—come together in a book which, in some ways perhaps, only a New Zealander could have written.
In completing the revision and seeing the book through the press I have had help from many quarters for which I am deeply grateful: in New Zealand from Mrs Janet Paul and Dr David Mackay, and Mrs Ilse Jacoby who carefully typed the whole text; in England from Mrs Alison Quinn (who compiled the index), Miss Phyllis Mander-Jones (for the bibliography), both of whom scrutinised the proofs with a critical and scholarly eye, from Mrs Yolande Jones, Dr Averil Lysaght, Mr J. D. Newth, Dr Helen Wallis and Dr Glyndwr Williams.
Over many years my father became indebted to men and women in almost every part of the world for scholarly assistance. Many are listed in the prefaces to his editions of the Cook and Banks's Journal. It is impossible for me to list them all here, and all will, I am sure, accept that this book itself is the real acknowledgement of their advice and help and will, on their part, share our gratitude that a lifetime's work has been so magnificently completed.
T. H. Beaglehole
Victoria University of Wellington