Born Richard Henry Sampson in London in 1896, Richard Hull was the son of Nina Hull and S. A. Sampson. He attended Rugby College; though awarded a scholarship in mathematics on completing his studies there, he failed to enter Trinity College at Cambridge University because of the outbreak of World War I. He entered the army on his eighteenth birthday and received a commission. He served with an infantry battalion and the machine gun corps and spent three years in France. After the war, he remained on the active list of his original army battalion until 1929, when he formally retired. During that time, however, he joined a firm of chartered accountants, with whom he worked for several years. Although he passed his qualifying examinations in accounting, he was unsuccessful in establishing a private practice and turned to writing instead. He wrote his first and most famous novel, The Murder of My Aunt, in 1934, and thereafter published a book a year until 1941, when he began to release his work at a slower pace. He published fifteen novels in all, with the last appearing in 1953. When Hull wrote of himself, he relied on the third person, as in his letters to mystery critic and historian Howard Haycraft.
On September 1, 1939, Hull was recalled to service but was released as a major in July, 1940, because of his age. He next worked in the Admiralty as a chartered accountant, investigating costs of government contracts, until the mid-1950’s. A lifelong bachelor, he lived in his London club until his death in 1973.