The two volumes we already have of “The Human Predicament” [The Fox in the Attic
, The Wooden Sheperdess
] are in themselves enough to make the novel a major and unique contribution to the century’s fiction.
— Walter Allen
About the Author
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 fromNYRB Classics.
Hilary Mantel is the author of many novels, including Beyond Black
and Wolf Hall.