Stephen John Fry (About this sound listen ; born 24 August 1957) is an English actor, screenwriter, author, playwright, journalist, poet, comedian, television and radio presenter, film director, activist, and board member of Norwich City Football Club.
After a troubled childhood and adolescence, during which he was expelled from two schools and spent three months in prison for credit card fraud, he secured a place at Queens’ College, Cambridge, where he studied English literature. While at university, Fry became involved with the Cambridge Footlights, where he met his long-time collaborator Hugh Laurie. As half of the comic double act Fry and Laurie, he co-wrote and co-starred in A Bit of Fry & Laurie, and took the role of Jeeves (with Laurie playing Wooster) in Jeeves and Wooster.
Fry’s acting roles include the lead in the film Wilde, Melchett in the BBC television series Blackadder, the title character in the television series Kingdom, a recurring guest role as Dr. Gordon Wyatt on the crime series Bones, and as Gordon Deitrich in the dystopian thriller V for Vendetta. He has also written and presented several documentary series, including the Emmy Award-winning Stephen Fry: The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive, which saw him explore his mental illness. He is also the long-time host of the BBC television quiz show QI.
As well as his work in television, Fry has contributed columns and articles for newspapers and magazines, and has written four novels and two volumes of autobiography, Moab Is My Washpot and The Fry Chronicles. He also appears frequently on BBC Radio 4, starring in the comedy series Absolute Power, being a frequent guest on panel games such as Just a Minute, and acting as chairman for I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue, where he was one of a trio of hosts who succeeded the late Humphrey Lyttelton. Fry is also known for his voice-overs, reading all seven of the Harry Potter novels for the UK audiobook recordings, and narrating the LittleBigPlanet series of video games as well as an animated series of explanations of the Laws of cricket.
Fry was born in Hampstead, London, on 24 August 1957, the son of Marianne Eve Fry (née Newman) and Alan John Fry, who was an English physicist and inventor. Fry was raised in no religious faith. His maternal grandparents, Martin and Rosa Neumann, were Hungarian Jewish immigrants from Šurany, which is now in Slovakia. Fry grew up in the village of Booton near Reepham, Norfolk, having moved from Chesham, Buckinghamshire, at an early age.
Fry briefly attended Cawston Primary School, Cawston, Norfolk, before going on to Stouts Hill Preparatory School, in Uley, Gloucestershire, at the age of seven, and then to Uppingham School, Rutland, where he joined Fircroft house, and was described as a “near-asthmatic genius”. He was expelled from Uppingham when he was 15, and subsequently from the Paston School.
At 17, after leaving Norfolk College of Arts and Technology, Fry absconded with a credit card stolen from a family friend, was arrested in Swindon, and, as a result, spent three months in Pucklechurch Prison on remand. Fry constantly talked about the contrasting relationship he had with his father and mother. Whilst in Pucklechurch, his mother had cut out crosswords from every newspaper, something which Fry said was “a wonderful act of kindness.” Fry later stated that these crosswords were the only thing that got him through the ordeal.
Following his release, he resumed his education at City College Norwich, promising administrators that he would study rigorously to sit the Cambridge entrance exams. He scored well enough to gain a scholarship to Queens’ College, Cambridge. At Cambridge, Fry joined the Cambridge Footlights, appeared on University Challenge, and read for a degree in English literature, graduating with upper second class honours. Fry also met his future comedy collaborator Hugh Laurie at Cambridge, and starred alongside him in the Footlights Club.