Educated at Rugby and Oxford, Hughes used his experiences in his famous novel of 1857 Tom Brown’s Schooldays and its sequel Tom Brown at Oxford. Hughes was involved in both the Co-operative and the Christian Socialist movements and was one of the founders of the Working Men’s College in Great Ormond Street. In parliament Hughes sat as Liberal MP for Lambeth 1865-68 and Frome 1868-74. He campaigned to improve the legal position of co-operatives and trade unions. In later life he founded a settlement in the USA, Rugby, Tennessee, designed as an experiment in utopian living for the sons of the English gentry and which still exists today.