Thomas Hughes was born in Uffington, Berkshire (now Oxfordshire) in 1822. In February 1834 he went to Rugby School, which was then under Dr Thomas Arnold, a contemporary of his father at Oriel College, Oxford, and the most influential British schoolmaster of the 19th century. The author's impressions of the headmaster were intensely reverent and in Hughes's novel, Tom Brown's Schooldays (1857) Arnold was idealized as the perfect schoolmaster. In 1842 Hughes went on to Oriel College, Oxford, and graduated as a Bachelor of Arts in 1845. He was called to the bar in 1848, became Queen's Counsel in 1869 and a bencher in 1870, and was appointed to a county court judgeship in the Chester district in July 1882. He was elected to Parliament as a Liberal for Lambeth (1865-68), and for Frome (1868-74). Hughes also wrote The Scouring of the White Horse (1859), Tom Brown at Oxford (1861), and several non-fiction works including Religio Laici (1868), Life of Alfred the Great (1869). He died in 1896 aged 73.