Posts Tagged ‘20thC fiction’


A Hot Draught of Mad, Primal Fantasy & Poetry

   Posted by: rring    in Uncategorized

I saw a copy of this novel (our copy shown here) in a recent catalog, described as “a striking novel of English children loosed upon poor unsuspecting Caribbean pirates.  Described by Rebbecca West as ‘a hot draught of mad, primal fantasy and poetry, A High Wind in Jamaica is one of the best novels about childhood ever written.'”  The book was published in the U.S. under the title The Innocent Voyage.

Richard Arthur Warren Hughes (1900-1976) was an English novelist and playwright, who by virtue of his ancestry considered himself a Welshman.  He entered Oriel College (Oxford) in 1919 and fell under the spell of T. E. Lawrence.  He had a moderate success writing plays and working for (and founding) theatres, and was a wanderer at heart.  A High Wind in Jamaica was his first novel, which he started writing in the Adriatic in 1925, and which he finished whilst residing in Preston, Connecticut in 1928.  According to the Oxford DNB it “was an immediate bestseller.  It tells the story of a group of English children captured but befriended by pirates during a voyage to England in the 1860s, the most remarkable of whom is Emily Bas-Thornton, a child on the verge of womanhood, whose psychology is brilliantly explored in a manner owing something to the theories of Darwin and Freud.  The novel examines some of the confusions and absurdities to which conventional assumptions about the nature of good and evil sometimes lead.”

It was made into a film in 1965, starring Anthony Quinn and James Coburn; see: