1 minute read

Richard Hughes (Richard Arthur Warren Hughes) Biography

(1900–76), (Richard Arthur Warren Hughes), Gipsy Night, The Sisters' Tragedy

British novelist, playwright, and poet, of Welsh descent, born in Weybridge, Surrey, educated at Oriel College, Oxford. Living mainly in Wales from 1923, he was Vice-President of the Welsh National Theatre (192436). As an undergraduate he produced a volume of poems, Gipsy Night (1922), and his first play, The Sisters' Tragedy (1922), which anticipates later work in its theme of the destruction of the innocent and the violence inherent in nature. Other plays include The Man Born To Be Hanged (1923) and A Comedy of Good and Evil (1924), and the first-ever commissioned radio play, Danger (1924), about three people trapped in a coal mine by a roof-fall. In his first novel, A High Wind in Jamaica (1929; US title The Innocent Voyage), a family of children in the earlier nineteenth century leave their Jamaican home for Britain, to be captured by pirates. The children respond only arbitrarily to events; Hughes thus turns notions of innocence on their head, the charming girl, Emily, being capable of a terrible murder. In Hazard (1938) is the story of a tramp steamer in a freak hurricane which pits its assorted characters against brute Nature. The Fox in the Attic (1961), the first volume of what was to be called ‘The Human Predicament’, was received with enormous critical acclaim. Opening in rural Wales, shortly after the end of the Great War, the novel shows us Augustine, the innocent young hero shocked out of his squirearchic and deliberately reclusive life by the inexplicable death of a very young child, and deciding to visit relations in Germany. The fictional characters mingle with real ones, most ambitiously of all Hitler, in whose abortive Munich putsch the novel culminates. The second volume, The Wooden Shepherdess (1973), contains a real tour de force in its account of the murder of Röhm, the ‘Night of the Long Knives’, and a vivid and poetic presentation of Prohibition America.

Additional topics

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Honest Ulsterman to Douglas Hyde Biography