Hichens was born in Speldhurst in Kent, the eldest son of a clergyman. He was educated at Clifton College, the Royal College of Music and early on had a desire to be a musician. Later in life he would be a music critic on the World, taking the place of George Bernard Shaw. He also studied at the London School of Journalism. Hichens was a great traveler, Egypt was one of his favorite destinations, he first went there in the early 1890s for his health. For most of his later life he lived outside England, in Switzerland and the Riviera. He never married.Hichens first novel, The Coastguard's Secret (1886), was written when he was only seventeen. He first became well known among the reading public with The Green Carnation (1894), a satire of Oscar Wilde and Lord Alfred Douglas; since the work made clear Wilde was homosexual it was withdrawn from publication in 1895, but not before helping set the stage for Wilde's public disgrace and downfall.Hichens first big success was An Imaginative Man (1895); set in the city of Cairo, Egypt a place which fascinated Hichens, it is a study of insanity, in which the hero has a number of sexual adventures and then smashes his head against the Great Sphinx. Other early fiction includes The Folly of Eustace (1896), a collection of stories including some supernatural; Flames (1897), a story resembling Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde; The Londoners (1898), a satire about decadent London; The Slave (1899), a fantasy about an amazing emerald; Tongues of Conscious (1900), a collection of five horror stories including "How Love Came to Professor Guildea", about a supernatural visitation, thought by some to be his best fiction, it is frequently anthologized; Felix (1902), is an early fictional treatment of hypodermic morphine addiction; The Garden of Allah (1904) sold well internationally, and was made into films three times.Hichens published his memoirs in 1947, Yesterday.