Barry Hughart

Barry Hughart (born March 13, 1934 in Peoria, Illinois), is an American author of fantasy novels.

Barry Hughart
BornMarch 13, 1934 (age 84)
Peoria, Illinois
GenreFantasy, Chinoiserie


Hughart was born in Peoria, Illinois on March 13, 1934. His father, John Harding Page, served as a naval officer. His mother, Veronica Hughart, was an architect.[1]

Hughart was educated at Phillips Academy (Andover). After graduating from high school, he suffered from undiagnosed depression, which was classified at the time as schizophrenia, and was treated in the Kings County Psychiatric Ward.[2] Following his release he attended Columbia University where he obtained a bachelor's degree in 1956.[3]

Upon his graduation from Columbia, Hughart joined the United States Air Force and served from 1956 to 1960[3] where he was involved in laying mines in the Korean Demilitarized Zone.[2] During Hughart's military service he began to develop his lifelong interest in China that led him to plan a series set in "an Ancient China that never was".[4] His connection to China continued after his military service, as he worked with TechTop, a military surplus company that was based in Asia, from 1960 to 1965.[3]

From 1965 to 1970 Hughart was the manager of the Lenox Hill Book Shop in New York City.

Hughart lives in Tucson, Arizona.


Barry Hughart's writing career started with his novel Bridge of Birds, published in 1984, which won the 1985 World Fantasy Award for best novel and also won the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award in 1986, followed by The Story of the Stone in 1988 and Eight Skilled Gentlemen in 1990. He intended to write seven novels about the adventures of Li Kao and Number Ten Ox, but his writing career was cut short due to issues with his publishers. Since his last published novel, Hughart has reportedly stopped writing.[5] Hughart cites Alexandre Dumas, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Mark Twain as major influences in his work. Romance of the Three Kingdoms and The Arabian Nights are two major works he also states as affecting his own writing.[1]

The Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox

The Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox is a series of three books about Li Kao, an ancient sage and scholar with "a slight flaw in his character",[4] and his client, later assistant, the immensely strong peasant Number Ten Ox, who narrates the story. The series blends Chinese mythology—authentic and imagined, from several eras—with detective fiction and a gentle, ironic humour. The first book Bridge of Birds was published in 1984,[6] the title derived from "The Cowherd and the Weaver Girl" myth. It was followed in 1988 by The Story of the Stone and in 1990 by Eight Skilled Gentlemen. No further books followed, although Hughart had planned a series of seven novels. In the last of these, Li Kao and Number Ten Ox would die facing the Great White Serpent (a conflict alluded to in Bridge of Birds). They would then become minor celestial deities who would continue to cause problems for the August Personage of Jade.[1] An omnibus edition, The Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox was first published in 1998 by The Stars Our Destination Books in both hardback and trade paperback. It was illustrated by Kaja Foglio.[7]

Bridge of Birds (1984)

The first novel in the series, Bridge of Birds, received the 1986 Mythopoeic Award for Best Fantasy Novel and tied for the 1985 World Fantasy Award for Best Novel. It has been translated into at least six different languages: Bulgarian; French; German; Hebrew; Japanese; and Spanish. Hughart considered the first draft of the book as completely "wrong" and set it aside for many years. His inspiration for finishing the book came about after reading The Importance of Understanding by Lin Yutang. Hughart stated that he realized his first version was about "monsters and marvels and mayhem" and that "the book hadn't really been about anything". When he decided to continue working on the book he made "love" the central theme of the story.[8]

The Story of the Stone (1988)

The second book of the series. Master Li and Number Ten Ox set out on another adventure after the killing of a monk, to find out his murderer and to find a stolen manuscript from his library. The Story of the Stone takes place in the Valley of the Sorrows where they set out to find the Laughing Prince, the murder suspect.

Eight Skilled Gentlemen (1990)

The third book of the series, Eight Skilled Gentlemen is the final adventure of Master Li and Number Ten Ox.

Publication issues

In an interview in 2000 Hughart blamed the end of the Master Li and Number Ten Ox series on unsympathetic and incompetent publishers. The style of his books made them difficult to classify and he felt his market was restricted by the decision to sell only to SF/fantasy outlets. As an example of publisher incompetence, Hughart notes that his publishers did not notify him of the awards given Bridge of Birds. He also points out that The Story of the Stone was published three months ahead of schedule, so that no purchasable copies were available by the time the scheduled reviews finally appeared; finally, the paperback edition of Eight Skilled Gentlemen was published simultaneously with the hardback edition resulting in few sales of the latter. When his publishers then refused to publish hardback editions of any future books, Hughart stated that he found it impossible to afford to continue writing novels, which brought the series to an end.[9] Later in 2008, Hughart wrote[2]

Will there be more? I doubt it, and it's not because of bad sales and worse publishers. It's simply that I'd taken it as far as I could. ... [N]o matter how well I wrote I'd just be repeating myself.


Barry Hughart's style has been considered difficult to classify.[10] Hughart uses a "faux-oriental style"[11] with "long alliterations, poetic hyperboles, and casual references to Chinese culture"[12] and lighthearted humor.[13]


Reviewers identify many themes in Hughart's writing, from mystery, Chinese myths, humor, and thrill, to potions, magic plants, ghosts, and spells. Bridge of Birds is as much a fantasy as a mystery, a long complex journey. Hughart imagined his own China with its own unique history, and each novel in his series builds upon the others.[14][15] Hughart drew on numerous sources to create the Chinese mythology of Bridge of Birds.[11]


Hughart has also written dialogue for the following films:


  1. ^ a b c Vandermeer, Jeff (2003). Richard Bleiler, ed. Supernatural Fiction Writers, vol. 1. Charles Scribner's Sons. pp. 461–466. ISBN 0-684-31252-2.
  2. ^ a b c Hughart, Barry (2008). "The Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox: Mr. Hughart's very personal flap copy for our edition". Subterranean Press. Retrieved 2018-08-07.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Hughart, Barry 1934 -. Contemporary Authors. 137. Detroit: Gale. 1992. p. 211. ISBN 0-8103-1962-4. OCLC 123619198.
  4. ^ a b From Hughart's description of Bridge of Birds, as quoted on the back cover and in reviews.
  5. ^ Silver, Steven. "Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart". Del Ray. Retrieved 15 Oct 2012.
  6. ^ "Barry Hughart Finds His Place". Locus. 18 (12): 54. December 1985. ISSN 0047-4959. OCLC 2255782. ...he had previously written two pseudonymous novels...
  7. ^ "Bookstore owner turns publisher" by Sam T. Weller. Publishers Weekly, January 25, 1999 (Vol. 246, Issue 4), page 23 (about the 1998 printing of The Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox).
  8. ^ Foster, Jon. "The Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox by Barry Hughart". Retrieved 15 Oct 2012.
  9. ^ ""Interview with Barry Hughart"". Archived from the original on 2007-08-06. Retrieved 2005-01-07. by Jerry Kuntz, 2000.
  10. ^ Wallace, Bob (24 December 2005). "The Reclusive Barry Hughart". The Sudden Curve. Retrieved 12 Oct 2012.
  11. ^ a b "Bridge of Birds". Eyrie. 29 June 2008. Retrieved 12 Oct 2012.
  12. ^ Karalora (5 April 2008). "Book Review: Barry Hughart's 'Bridge of Birds'". Nexus Zine. Retrieved 12 Oct 2012.
  13. ^ Tyson, Mauermann (10 Jan 2011). "Review: Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart". State of Review. Retrieved 12 Oct 2012.
  14. ^ Mauermann, Tyson (12 April 1985). "Review: Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart". Retrieved 13 October 2012.
  15. ^ Karalora (April 5, 2008). "Book Review: Barry Hughart's Bridge of Birds". Retrieved 12 October 2012.
  16. ^ Wheatley, Dennis (2007). Devil Rides Out Hertfordshire. Wordsworth Editions Limited.
  17. ^ O'Connor, John (October 10, 1986). "TV WEEKEND; 2 FILMS, 'BOUGH BREAKS' AND 'CIRCLE OF VIOLENCE'". New York Times.

External links

Bridge of Birds

Bridge of Birds is a fantasy novel by Barry Hughart, first published in 1984. It is the first of three novels in The Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox series. The original draft of Bridge of Birds is included in a special slipcased version of the omnibus collection, The Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox, released by Subterranean Press in 2008.Hughart called the novel "a modern version of a classical form of Chinese novel, which was an underground Taoist form designed to fight back against Confucians. Confucians liked to castrate people who fought the establishment. Without mentioning names, the Taoists could use real emperors and real power structure in a fantasy form."


Declare (2001) is a supernatural spy novel by American author Tim Powers. The novel presents a secret history of the Cold War, and earned several major fantasy fiction awards.

Eight Skilled Gentlemen

Eight Skilled Gentlemen is a novel by Barry Hughart, first published in 1990.

It is the third, and final, part of a series set in a version of ancient China that began with Bridge of Birds and The Story of the Stone.


Hughart is a surname. Notable people with the surname include:

Barry Hughart (born 1934), American fantasy novelist

Jim Hughart (born 1936), American jazz and pop bass player

Ron Hughart, American animation director

Veronica Hughart (1907-1977), American artist, architectural designer and journalist

Last Call (novel)

Last Call is a fantasy novel by American writer Tim Powers. It was published by William Morrow & Co in 1992. It is the first book in a loose trilogy called Fault Lines; the second book, Expiration Date (1995), is vaguely related to Last Call, the third book, Earthquake Weather (1997), acts as a sequel to the first two books.

List of fantasy novels (I–R)

This page lists notable fantasy novels (and novel series). The books appear in alphabetical order by title (beginning with I to R) (ignoring "A", "An", and "The"); series are alphabetical by author-designated name or, if there is no such, some reasonable designation. Science-fiction novels and short-story collections are not included here.

List of fictional detective teams

This is a list of fictional detective teams from popular detective fiction. This list includes pairs of characters who appear in a series of novels or short stories, not characters who are teamed only for a single story.

Where two detectives work together, they are listed as A and B; where a single detective is regularly accompanied by a non-detecting sidekick or chronicler they are listed as A with B. The author who created the team appears in parentheses.

Elijah Baley and R. Daneel Olivaw - (Isaac Asimov)

Tommy and Tuppence Beresford - (Agatha Christie)

Hercule Poirot with Arthur Hastings - (Agatha Christie)

Grijpstra and de Gier - (Janwillem van de Wetering)

Frank and Joe Hardy - (Franklin W. Dixon)

Sherlock Holmes with Dr. John H. Watson - (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)

Bertha Cool and Donald Lam - (Erle Stanley Gardner as A. A. Fair)

Lord Darcy and Sean O'Lochlainn - (Randall Garrett)

Hawk and Fisher - (Simon Green)

Nick and Nora Charles - (Dashiell Hammett)

Dalziel and Pascoe - (Reginald Hill)

Shawn Spencer and Burton Guster - (Steve Franks)

Solomon and Lord - (Paul Levine)

Travis McGee and Meyer - (John D. MacDonald)

Morse and Lewis - (Colin Dexter)

Hildegarde Withers with Inspector Oscar Piper - (Stuart Palmer)

Adrian Monk and Natalie Teeger - (Andy Breckman)

Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin - (Rex Stout)

Sister Fidelma with Brother Eadulf - (Peter Tremayne)

Master Li with Number Ten Ox - (Barry Hughart)

Inspector Lynley with Sergeant Havers - (Elisabeth George)

Martin Beck with Gunvald Larsson - (Sjöwall and Wahlöö)

Michael Knight and KITT - (Glen A. Larson)

Shaggy Rogers with Scooby Dooby Doo - (Hanna-Barbera)

Nick Wilde and Judy Hops - (Clark Spencer)

Phoenix Wright With Maya Fey - (Shu Takumi)

List of science fiction and fantasy detectives

This list consists of fictional detectives from science fiction and fantasy stories.

Osama (novel)

Osama is a 2011 alternate history metafictional novel by Lavie Tidhar. It was first published by PS Publishing.

Our Lady of Darkness

Our Lady of Darkness (1977) is an urban fantasy novel by American author Fritz Leiber. The novel is distinguished for three elements: the heavily autobiographical elements in the story, the use of Jungian psychology that informs the narrative, and its detailed description of "Megapolisomancy", a fictional occult science. It was originally published in shorter form as "The Pale Brown Thing" (Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, February 1971).

Soldier of Sidon

Soldier of Sidon is a 2006 fantasy novel by American writer Gene Wolfe.

It is the third part of the Soldier (or Latro) series of books, with two preceding novels, Soldier of the Mist (1986) and Soldier of Arete (1989). Soldier of Sidon continues the adventures of the Soldier series's protagonist, Latro, in Egypt at the time of the Achaemenid Empire.

Song of Kali

Song of Kali is a horror novel by American writer Dan Simmons, published in 1985. It was the winner of the 1986 World Fantasy Award..The story deals with an American intellectual who travels to Calcutta, where he becomes embroiled in mysterious and horrific events at the centre of which lies a cult of Kapalikas that worships Kali.

Tender Morsels

Tender Morsels (2008) is a novel by Australian author Margo Lanagan. It won the Ditmar Award in 2009 for Best Novel and was joint winner of the 2009 World Fantasy Award for Best Novel.

The Dragon Waiting

The Dragon Waiting: A Masque of History is a 1983 fantasy novel by John M. Ford. It won the 1984 World Fantasy Award for Best Novel.

The Story of the Stone (Barry Hughart)

The Story of the Stone (Chinese: 石頭記; pinyin: Shítóu jì) is a novel by Barry Hughart, first published in 1988. It is part of a series set in a version of ancient China that began with Bridge of Birds and continues with Eight Skilled Gentlemen. The story begins on the twelfth day of the seventh moon in the Year of the Snake 3,339 (AD 650).

Thomas the Rhymer (novel)

Thomas the Rhymer is a fantasy novel by American writer Ellen Kushner. It is based on the ballad of Thomas the Rhymer, a piece of folklore in which Thomas Learmonth's love of the Queen of Elfland was rewarded with the gift of prophecy. The novel won the 1991 World Fantasy Award and Mythopoeic Award.

Tooth and Claw (novel)

Tooth and Claw is a fantasy novel by Welsh-Canadian writer Jo Walton, published by Tor Books on November 1, 2003. It won the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel in 2004.

Towing Jehovah

Towing Jehovah is a 1994 fantasy novel by American writer James K. Morrow, published by Harcourt Brace. The book is about the death of God and the subsequent towing of his body across the Atlantic Ocean. In 1995 it received the World Fantasy Award for best novel, with two additional best novel awards. It was followed by two sequels in 1996 and 1999.

Veronica Hughart

Annie Verona "Veronica" Barry Hughart (1907-1977) was artist, architectural designer and journalist who lived in Tucson, Arizona and was an active part of the Old Fort Lowell art colony.

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