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'A quite extraordinary and unforgettable book' Ralph Straus

On the high seas of the Caribbean, a family of English children is set loose – sent by their parents from their home in Jamaica to receive the civilising effects of England. When their ship is captured by pirates, the thrilling cruise continues as the children transfer their affections from one batch of sailors to another. Innocence is their protection, but as life in the care of pirates reveals its dangers, the events which unfold begin to take on a savagely detached quality.


I read Richard Hughes’ A High Wind in Jamaica this year and felt breathless with shock and awe… Appallingly dark story…dreadfully funny.

Meg Rosoff, Independent

A thrillingly good book

Martin Amis

On one level it's an exciting adventure story with great storms and earthquakes, terrific animals, unruly children and some dubious pirates. What more, when young, could you want? But all this coexists with another narrative, darker and more sophisticated, complex and tragic. You can read this book over again and have read a different novel.

Michael Holroyd, Guardian

A hot draught of mad, primal fantasy and poetry

Rebecca West

A fascinating study in child psychology

New York Times

Never once has he struck a false note

Vita Sackville-West

What starts as merely masterful storytelling becomes something dreamlike and haunting; it's not a book you easily forget

Independent on Sunday

Before Lord of the Flies there was A High Wind in Jamaica, an uninching, wryly observed portrait of the madness of children

The Guardian

A surreal novel of childhood adventure that turns how we see the human mind upside down

John Gray, The Observer

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback


    January 2, 2015

    Vintage Classics

    192 pages

    RRP $19.99

    Online retailers

    • Amazon
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
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    • Abbey's Bookshop
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    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook


    June 30, 2011

    Vintage Digital

    192 pages

    Online retailers

    • Amazon Kindle AU
    • iBooks
    • Google Play EBook AU
    • Kobo
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    • eBooks