Richard Hughes (1900-1976) was born in Surrey, England, but his ancestors came from Wales and he considered himself a Welshman. After an early childhood marked by the deaths of two older siblings and his father (his mother then went to work as a magazine journalist), Hughes attended boarding school and, with every expectation of being sent to fight in the First World War, enrolled in the military. Armistice was declared, however, before he could see active service, and Hughes was free to go to Oxford, where he became a star on the university literary scene, with a book of poems in print and a play produced in the West End by the time he graduated in 1922. Hughes’s first novel, A High Wind in Jamaica, came out in 1928 and was a best seller in the United Kingdom and America. In Hazard followed ten years later. Hughes also wrote stories for children and radio plays, but his final major undertaking was the “The Human Predicament”, an ambitious amalgamation of fact and fiction that would track the German and English branches of a single family into the disaster of the Second World War while offering a dramatic depiction of Hitler’s rise to power. The work was planned as a trilogy, but remained incomplete at the time of Hughes’s death. The first volume, The Fox in the Attic, appeared in 1960, to great critical acclaim; volume two, The Wooden Shepherdess, was published in 1973. All of Hughes’s completed novels are available from NYRB Classics.
The author of A High Wind in Jamaica is at his best on the high seas, where man’s furious nature is matched—perhaps outpaced—by the intensity of the natural world. “A small masterpiece of lyric terror about a cargo ship that runs into a hurricane, but also about the rest of life.” —Simon Schama
A tale of enormous suspense and growing horror, The Fox in the Attic is the widely acclaimed first part of Richard Hughes’s monumental historical fiction, “The Human Predicament.”
This new edition of the The Wooden Shepherdess concludes with the twelve chapters that Hughes completed of the planned third volume of “The Human Predicament,” here published for the first time in America.
A tale of seduction and betrayal, of accommodation and manipulation, of weird humor and unforeseen violence, this classic of twentieth-century literature is above all an extraordinary reckoning with the secret reasons and otherworldly realities of childhood.