Exploring the Life and Works of Richard Hughes

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The Literary Journey of a British Wordsmith

Richard Hughes was a renowned British writer whose life and work continue to inspire readers today. Born in 1900, his writing reflects a deep connection to nature and a profound exploration of the human experience. Let’s delve into the life and poetry of this remarkable literary figure.

Early Life

Richard Hughes was born in Weybridge, Surrey, England, in 1900. His upbringing was marked by a love for literature and the English countryside. Hughes developed a keen sense of observation from a young age, which would later find its way into his writing.

Photograph of British writer Richard Hughes.
Photo credit: https://www.laphamsquarterly.org/contributors/hughes

Hughes’ father, Arthur Hughes, worked as a civil servant, while his mother, Louisa Grace Warren, had a West Indies upbringing in Jamaica. He received his early education at Charterhouse School and later graduated from Oriel College, Oxford, in 1922.





Literary Pursuits

In 1917, one of the teachers at Charterhouse submitted Hughes’ writing to The Spectator magazine. This article, originally composed as a school essay, contained a critical review of “The Loom of Youth” by Alec Waugh, a recently released novel that had stirred controversy due to its depiction of homosexual relationships among British schoolboys in a public school.

After school, Hughes worked as a journalist and explored various places before he tied the knot with the painter Frances Bazley (1905–1985) in 1932.

Notable Works

Hughes’ poetry collection, “Gypsy Night and Other Poems” gained recognition for its lyrical beauty and introspective themes. His verses resonated with readers who found solace in his words and a deeper connection to the world around them.

Excerpt from Gypsy Night

When the feet of the rain tread a dance on the roofs,

And the wind slides through the rocks and the trees,

And Dobbin has stabled his hoofs

In the warm bracken-litter, noisy about his knees;

And when there is no moon, and the sodden clouds slip over;

Whenever there is no moon, and the rain drips cold,

And folk with a shilling of money are bedded in houses,

And pools of water glitter on Farmer’s mould.

Read the full poem here.

Hughes’ most notable work was his novel A High Wind in Jamaica published in 1929. In this story, set in the 1800s, Hughes writes about what happens when a group of English children accidentally gets captured by pirates. This novel is where the cocktail called the Hangman’s Blood is first described.

The book was adapted into a movie in 1965. Interestingly, Hughes admitted that he had never personally visited Jamaica or the West Indies. Instead, he relied on his mother’s recollections of the region to create the story.

In 1938, Hughes wrote another book called “In Hazard,” which is based on a real event about a ship called the S.S. Phemius caught in a powerful hurricane near Cuba in 1932. The ship struggled through the storm for four long days.

Hughes also wrote many stories for children, including the popular one called “The Spider’s Palace.”


In his later years, Hughes relocated to Ynys in Gwynedd, where he took on the role of a churchwarden. Subsequently, he was laid to rest in his home in 1976.

Moreover, Hughes not only established himself geographically but also attained esteemed positions in literary circles. As a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, he earned recognition for his significant contributions. Adding to his accolades, he was honored as a member of both the National Institute of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

In 1946, in acknowledgement of his exceptional achievements, Hughes was bestowed with the Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE). This prestigious award served as a testament to his remarkable influence and lasting impact on the literary world.

Richard Hughes’ legacy lives on through his timeless works. His ability to capture the essence of the human experience continues to inspire new generations of poets and readers alike.

Richard Hughes
Photo credit: http://richardpoolewriter.uk/essays/richard-hughes/

Hughes’ writing left an indelible mark on the world of literature, making him a beloved figure in the realm of poetry. His works remind us to appreciate the beauty of the world and reflect on the mysteries of life.






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