Hugh Anderson began his writing career in the early 1950s and is widely recognised as one of Australia's primary publishers of folkloric material and for his contributions to the study of Australian folklore. His work encompasses historical publications, literary criticism, school texts, biography and folklore. Many of his published works specialise in the history of the folk song and ballad and he has also published and edited numerous books on bush singers and Australian bush song. He released his first book Colonial Ballads in 1955 which was followed by numerous others including The Goldrush Songster (1958), Farewell to Old England: A Broadside History of Early Australia (1964), Folksongs of Australia with pioneer Australian folklore collector John Meredith (1967) and Time Out of Mind: Simon McDonald of Creswick (1974).
Anderson contributed regularly to various national and international folklore journals and publications. For many years he served on the editorial board of Australian Folklore, Australia's principal folklore journal, and acted as its review editor. In 1979 Anderson established Red Rooster Press, specialising in folkloric literature. Some of its more significant publications include works by John Meredith and include The Wild Colonial Boy (1982) and Duke of the Outback (1983). During the 1980s Anderson travelled to China to study Chinese folklore at the invitation of the Chinese Folklore Society and the Chinese Writers' Association. Hugh Anderson was appointed the Chairman of the Australian Government's Committee of Inquiry into Folklife in Australia in 1986 which led to the publication of Folklife: Our Living Heritage (1987), co-edited with folklorists Keith McKenry and Gwenda Davey. Anderson also wrote an unpublished critique of Australian folklore, Taking Aim Against the Sun: the making of traditions in Australia.