Saturday, September 7, 2019

Bert Hingley

Sad news that Bert Hingley, the legendary New Zealand publisher at Hodder & Stoughton in New Zealand, died on Tuesday 3 September. 

In his publishing days here he was a rock star, publishing Sue McCauley, Russell Haley, Philip Temple, Pat Hanly and many others. I watched from a distance – I was merely a book reviewer – but was astonished to find that a person could be bookish and also worldly, witty, commercially minded and, frankly, sexy. 

The photo above is from my book The Dirty Decade: New Zealand in the 80s and is undated but the hair is a clue. I captioned it: “The Peter Frampton years: Bert Hingley of Hodder & Stoughton (seen with Sebastian Black).”

When he moved to Australia he tried his hand as a second-hand bookseller at Darling Street Books in Balmain, which he passed on to his son Benjamin when he took up the publisher’s position at the very classy literary publisher Hale & Iremonger.

There will be obituaries by people who knew him better and were closer to the action. I always admired what he did at Hodder – but my favourite memory is from before that time, of him coming in to the Listener office in Auckland to deliver his “Bookmarks” column (1979 maybe?), mid-winter, with a heavy cold, wearing jeans, boots and a thin muslin shirt that showed off his curly chest and medallion.

There hasn’t been a publisher like him since – it’s not just the bravery, the commitment to his authors, the commitment to production values, not just the conversation, not just the commitment to lunches. But what a combination!

For those of you who are in or can get to Sydney, the funeral will be held on Thursday 12 September at 2 p.m. at Greenway Chapel and Memorial Gardens at Green Point, Central Coast. It will be a lay funeral of one hour, conducted by the family. 

No comments: