Though his reputation is limited to a small public, Richard Arthur Warren Hughes had considerable critical success with his small output of books. A writer of plays, short stories, poems, and novels, his distinction is based mainly on his novels. Critics almost unanimously acclaimed his stylistic skills and his portrayal of the underpinnings of character.
Born of Welsh parentage in Weybridge, England, April 19, 1900, Hughes was educated at Charterhouse School and Oriel College, Oxford University. While still at Oxford, he traveled widely in Europe. When The Sisters’ Tragedy was produced, George Bernard Shaw called it “the finest one-act play ever written.” Published in England as A High Wind in Jamaica, The Innocent Voyage drew praise from critics for its adroit handling of melodrama, its imaginative power, and its grasp of the child’s mentality. In 1943, a dramatic version was produced on Broadway, with little success.
After The Innocent Voyage, Hughes concentrated on fiction. His story “In Hazard” was compared favorably with another depiction of a storm at sea, Joseph Conrad’s Typhoon (1903). Two volumes of his short stories for children were well received: The Spider’s Palace and Don’t Blame Me! Hughes died in Wales shortly after his seventy-sixth birthday.
Graves, Richard Perceval. Richard Hughes: A Biography. London: A. Deutsch, 1994. Includes bibliographical references and an index.
Hughes, Penelope. Richard Hughes: Author, Father. Gloucester, England: A. Sutton, 1984. A charming set of memories of her father that quotes extensively from letters and anecdotes. Also contains photographs and some of Hughes’s drawings.
Morgan, Paul. The Art of Richard Hughes: A Study of the Novels. Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1993. A critical study. Includes a bibliography and an index.
Poole, Richard. Richard Hughes: Novelist. Chester Springs, Pa.: Dufour Editions, 1986. A systematic study. The first part deals with biography, the second with his novels and theoretical thinking. Contains a useful bibliography of Hughes’s own writing.
Savage, D. S. “Richard Hughes, Solipsist.” The Anglo-Welsh Review 68 (1981). A substantial article.
Thomas, Peter. Richard Hughes. Cardiff: University of Wales, 1974. A straightforward critical study emphasizing Hughes’s ability to go against received opinions and fashions.