Randell, Beverley

Randell, Beverley

In Brief

Beverly Randell is a nationally and internationally recognised author of books for children. Numerous publishers in different countries have published her books which are available in several languages. Randell's early books, aimed at 5 year olds, forged the way for tension, climax and resolution to become part of books for young readers. Beverley Randell was invested with a New Zealand Order of Merit in 2004 for services to children's literature and education.


Randell, Beverley (1931-) is an internationally recognised author of books for children. To date, sixteen publishers, in several languages, in six countries, have published her books.

Randell was born and educated in Wellington. She completed a BA in English and History at Victoria University College and went on to work as a primary teacher. In 1959 she married Hugh Price, of the publishers Price Milburn.

In 1955 she wrote John the Mouse who Learned to Read, which was reprinted several times, and was then published as a book by Collins, Penguin, and in various collections, with total print runs of 267,000 copies - including an edition in Japanese.

In 1962, she began to write and edit books for children in the early stages of learning to read, using her maiden name Beverley Randell as a pen-name. In the course of her staggeringly successful career, Randell’s first major achievement has been the writing of proper stories for 5-year-olds who have the very minimum of reading skills. Before 1960, most early school reading books had been relatively meaningless repetitive reading exercises. In contrast Randell was able to produce satisfying plots with tension, climax and resolution. Dennis McEldowney noted this 'genius for devising…infant readers which used minimal vocabularies to tell actual stories’ in the Oxford History of New Zealand Literature (1991).

Too numerous to list here, a complete list of Randell’s hundreds of books is available on the National Library of New Zealand website. Her most recent titles include: Survivors in the frozen north (2002), The man who rode a tiger (2002), Baby Bear’s real name (2003), When dinosaurs ruled the earth (2003), Balloons Go Pop! (2006), Mother Bear's Scarf (2006), Eggs and Dandelions (2006), and The Clever Jackals (2006).

In 2009, Beverley Randell co-authored Wellington at Work in the 1890s (Steele Roberts) with her husband Hugh Price.

The origins of Randell’s interest in children’s books written are explained by her daughter, Susan Price, in her book Books for Life (1991).

Randell has also written a family history: A Crowded Thorndon Cottage: The Story of William and Sarah Randell and their Ten Children (Gondwanaland Press, 1992). The publication of this family history led to the purchase and restoration of the historic cottage. More information about this cottage is available in the pamphlet published by the Randell Cottage Writers Trust (2003). The trust works in partnership with the French Embassy with the support of Creative New Zealand and Wellington City Council in offering Randell Cottage as a residency for a French writer for six months each year. A New Zealand writer occupies the Randell Cottage for the other half of the year.

Beverley Randell was invested with a New Zealand Order of Merit in 2004, for services to children's literature and education.

She was also awarded the French National Order of Merit in 2005, in recognition of her role in the development of relations and friendship between New Zealand and France, because so many of her books have been translated into the French language, and every year a French writer occupies the Randell Cottage as a resident, receiving free board and a stipend.

In 2007, she became a member of Wellington Girls' College Business Hall of Fame.

By early 2008, the total sales of her books was about two hundred million copies, worldwide.

Beverley Randell's books for adults include, Shaping the PM Books (Gondwanaland Press, 2000) and Where did Baby Bear come from (Gondwanaland Press, 2003).

Beverley Randell lives in Wellington.


Updated January 2017.