After close on forty years I have just re-read three novels by Richard Hughes: “A High Wind in Jamaica”, “The Fox In the Attic” and “The Wooden Shepherdess”.
I can remember how much I enjoyed them in the 1970s but the stories themselves had blurred and faded in my memory. Re-reading them has confirmed my view of Hughes as a remarkable novelist.
Although Richard Hughes is not a name much heard today, he had a tremendous reputation a generation or two ago and counted among his friends Masefield, Yeats, T.E. Lawrence, Robert Graves, Dylan Thomas and Augustus John.
His reputation was built on a slender output of novels – only four over a period of forty-four years.
“A High Wind in Jamaica”, published in 1929, broke new ground in the depiction of children and paved the way for Golding’s “Lord of the Flies”.
“The Fox in the Attic” was the first volume of an intended trilogy which was to document the lives of British and German branches of a single family against the background of the ominous political and social developments between the two world wars.
The second volume, “The Wooden Shepherdess”, appeared in 1973 but Hughes died in 1976 before completing the final volume.
Although the story is incomplete, the two volumes stand by themselves and I recommend them highly.
As one critic said at the time: “England has found her Tolstoy”.