REVIEW by Tristan Hughes

NWR Issue 103

Everything I Have Almost Forgotten

by Owain Hughes

‘I was raised under Father’s principle of “plenty of benign neglect”,’ writes Owain Hughes near the beginning of this memoir of a 1940s and 50s childhood spent on and off at his family’s home on the banks of the Dwyryd estuary, opposite the village of Portmeirion. It’s a statement that’s difficult not to read in the light of his father’s most famous book.

Richard Hughes’ A High Wind in Jamaica is one of the most startling and original portrayals of childhood in fiction. Cast adrift in various exotic locales – from colonial Jamaica to a pirate ship – the Bas-Thornton children prove themselves to be supremely adaptable, inhabiting mental worlds that are deeply private, and unsettlingly separate, from the adult world around them. For benign neglect, read independence and imaginative space: cut off from parental oversight, Richard Hughes’ fictional children thrive.

And so, in many ways, does his actual son. Under the minimal supervision of Richard and his wife, the artist Frances Bazely, Owain Hughes explores the mountains and seascapes of Snowdonia and the Llyn Peninsula, falling in love with sailing and hiking, and revelling, along with his siblings, in ‘the unstructured, barefoot chaos of our lives....’

Want to read the full article? Go to our online shop where you can buy an individual issue or take out a subscription to NWR, saving £3.98 on the cover price. Prices start at £16.99 for three issues via Direct Debit, including p+p (UK only).

Buy this book at


previous review: Your Brother's Blood (The Walkin' Trilogy)
next review: Amy Dillwyn


A brief note on copyright:all authors have given permission for their work to appear online on New Welsh Review's website. Copyright remains with the author. If you wish to reproduce part or all of any article then the permission of the author must be sought, and the author and New Welsh Review credited accordingly.

Contact us:Registered Office PO Box 170, Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, SY23 1WZ - Telephone 00 (44) 1970 628410
© New Welsh Review Ltd, all rights reserved - Registered in England and Wales - Registered number: 02493828
Website design: mach2media and mopublications      Website development: Technoleg Taliesin Cyf.