The son of Sir Denis Brogan and Olwen Phillis Francis (Lady Brogan), OBE, archaeologist and authority on Roman Libya, he was educated at St Faith's School, Cambridge, Repton School, and St John's College, Cambridge, graduating BA in 1959 and MA in 1964. From the time when he was a schoolboy, he was a frequent correspondent of J.R.R. Tolkien regarding the latter's works. Tolkien's published Letters include five addressed to Brogan; these are dated 7 April 1948, Christmas 1948, 18 September 1954, 11 September 1955, and 14 December 1955. A draft of a letter addressed to Brogan but not sent is also included. 
Brogan was on the staff of The Economist from 1960 to 1963, and was elected a Harkness Fellow in 1962, then was a fellow of St John's College, Cambridge, from 1963 to 1974. He was then part of the department of history at the University of Essex from 1974 to 1998, first as a lecturer, then a reader, and finally as Professor of History from 1992 to 1998.
- Tocqueville (1973)
- The Times Reports The American Civil War (1975)
- The Life of Arthur Ransome (1984)
- The Longman History of the United States of America (1985, reprinted as The Penguin History of the United States of America, 1990)
- Mowgli's Sons: Kipling and Baden-Powell's Scouts (1987)
- Correspondance et Conversations d'Alexis de Tocqueville et Nassau William Senior, (1991, with Anne P. Kerr)
- American Presidential Families [with Charles Mosley] (1993)
- Kennedy (1996)
- Signalling from Mars: the letters of Arthur Ransome (1997, ed.)
- Alexis de Tocqueville: a biography (2006)
- "Hugh Brogan - St Faith's School Website". St Faith's School Website. Archived from the original on 2017-06-14. Retrieved 2016-04-28.
- BROGAN, Prof. (Denis) Hugh (Vercingetorix) Archived 2013-02-10 at Archive.today in Who's Who 2007 online (accessed 22 October 2007)
- Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien Humphrey Carpenter ed., 2d ed. 1981
- "Hugh Brogan obituary". Nancy Blackett Trust. 2019.
- Brogan's staff page at the University of Essex
- Works by or about Hugh Brogan in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
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