Born in Lower Hutt, Wellington, he was the son of the renowned historian John Beaglehole. He gained a MA from Victoria, then receiving a MA and PhD from King's College, Cambridge. He was a Harkness Fellow at Harvard University (1965–1966) and taught at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London in 1978.
Beaglehole had a long association with Victoria University as a student, Professor of history, Warden of Weir House, Dean of Arts, and Deputy Vice-Chancellor. In 1995 he was made a life member of the Victoria University of Wellington Students' Association. He went on to become Chancellor from December 2004 to 2010.
Beaglehole was deputy chairman of the council of the National Art Gallery (1979–1992), and chairperson of the New Zealand Historic Places Trust (1990–1996). In June 2012, Beaglehole was appointed the New Zealand Press Council.
He married Helen Bisley and they had three children John, Toby and Charlotte. He died of pneumonia in July 2015.
- McLintock, Alexander Hare, ed. (22 April 2009) [originally published in 1966]. "National Art Gallery Wellington". Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
- Heather, Ben (21 July 2015). "Former Victoria University chancellor Tim Beaglehole dies of pneumonia". Stuff.
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