Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

Pirate schooner

Pirate schooner. Unnamed vessel commanded by Captain Jonsen on which the five young Bas-Thornton children and two Fernandez children are inadvertently taken prisoner when the ship carrying them from Jamaica to England is captured. The seven children quickly adapt to life aboard the slovenly pirate ship, and it becomes for them a place of adventure and friendly companions, much like their home in Jamaica. They climb the ship’s ratlines fearlessly and pass their days talking with the friendly crew and playing with the ship’s animals. After carrying the children aboard his ship for a year, Captain Jonsen disguises his vessel as the merchant ship Lizzie Green and hails a passenger steamship, which takes the children to England.

The pirate captain’s cabin serves as a refuge and a crime scene. With the others aboard the Thelma for the circus, young Emily, still recuperating from her injury, remains behind to guard the tied-up Thelma captain. When he struggles free to get the knife, Emily grabs it first and stabs him fatally. The pirates only take two prizes while the children are aboard: the Clorinda, a London-bound British merchant ship, and the Thelma, a Dutch steamer.


*Jamaica. West Indies island ruled by Great Britain. Formerly a tropical paradise, Jamaica is suffering from economic and social confusion following the emancipation of...

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(Great Characters in Literature)

Henighan, T. J. “Nature and Convention in A High Wind in Jamaica.” Critique 9, no. 1 (1967): 5-18. One of the few literary discussions of the novel. Relevant and useful.

Hughes, Penelope. Richard Hughes: Author, Father. Gloucester, N.H.: Alan Sutton, 1984. Memories of her father, quoting extensively from letters and anecdotes. Includes photos and some of Hughes’s drawings.

Poole, Richard. Richard Hughes: Novelist. Bridgend, Mid Glamorgan, Wales: Poetry Wales Press, 1986. A full-length study of Hughes as novelist. Includes sections on biography, Hughes’s novels (including a chapter on A High Wind in Jamaica), and his theoretical thinking. Poole concentrates on Hughes’s narrative voice and stance. A full bibliography of Hughes’s own writing and an index are included.

Savage, D. S. “Richard Hughes, Solipsist.” Sewanee Review 94, no. 4 (Fall, 1986): 602-613. Substantial essay. Discusses the painful awareness Hughes had of the isolation of the ego and the illusory nature of human experience, with the consequent emptiness of accepted moral standards.

Thomas, Peter. Richard Hughes. Cardiff, Wales: University of Wales Press, 1973. Discusses the ways in which the novels have explored the areas where instinct and need become rationalized into principle. Emphasizes Hughes’s ability to go against accepted opinion and fashion—and often to invert them. Index included.