Biography (Cyclopedia of World Authors, Fourth Revised Edition)
The author, lawyer, legislator, reformer, and social activist Thomas Hughes was born in the village of Uffington in the Berkshire Downs of England, sixty miles west of London. He was the second son of John Hughes and Margaret Wilkinson. Tom and his elder brother George entered a preparatory school at Twyford in neighboring Hamphire during the fall of 1830. In 1834, Tom and George were sent by their father to Rugby School to be under the tutelage of Rugby’s noted headmaster, Thomas Arnold, their father’s classmate at Oxford University. Thomas Hughes left Rugby in 1842 to attend Oxford, and after graduating in 1845 he went to London to study law. He married Frances Ford, the daughter of a clergyman, with whom he had nine children. While he was a law student at Lincoln’s Inn, Hughes met Frederick Denison Maurice, chaplain and leader of the Christian Socialists, who became a major influence in Hughes’s life. In 1848, Hughes received his law degree.
Although he never thought of himself as primarily an author, Thomas Hughes composed several works for the Christian Socialists, as well as helping them found the London Working Men’s College, and wrote three novels, of which Tom Brown’s School Days became his chief claim to fame. All were written after the breakup of the Christian Socialists and deal with Christian Socialist concerns. Penned under the pseudonym “An Old Boy,” Tom Brown’s School Days resulted from Hughes’s...
(The entire section is 830 words.)
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Thomas Hughes was born on October 20, 1822, near Uffington in southern England, the second of Margaret Wilkinson Hughes and John Hughes's eight children. The Hughes family were members of the rural squirearchy, a loose confederation of landed proprietors that provided traditional leadership in the community. John Hughes spent most of his life as a well-connected literary dilettante who enjoyed the traditional social and sports activities of the countryside.
Hughes had a conventional upbringing for his social class, beginning his education at home, attending Rugby, a "public school" (the British equivalent of an American private school), and eventually entering Oxford University at age twenty.
At Rugby, Hughes came under the influence of Dr. Thomas Arnold, father of the poet Matthew Arnold. Believing that his students would be the future leaders of the British Empire, Dr. Arnold hoped to transform the purposes and practices of boarding schools in order that they might produce leaders distinguished for their intellectual achievements and moral strength. But in spite of Arnold's efforts to improve the academic rigor and moral tone of the school, Rugby was still an institution where the older boys exercised an often ruthless control over the younger students, and where learning took second place to sports and escapades.
Hughes flourished in the Rugby environment, excelling at both sports and academics. He was equally successful as a...
(The entire section is 648 words.)