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.