cover image The Fry Chronicles: 
An Autobiography

The Fry Chronicles: An Autobiography

Stephen Fry. Overlook, $27.95 (448p) ISBN 978-1-59020-714-7

With his trademark dry wit, Fry recounts his Cambridge years and those leading up to his 30th birthday in this genuinely touching and often hilarious second autobiographical installment after 1999’s Moab Is My Washpot. Officially a “criminal” when he arrived at the prestigious university in 1979—he got caught stealing at age 17 and spent a month in a young offender’s institution—Fry worried he wouldn’t fit in. But he adjusted quickly to Cambridge life, where he read English and excelled at written exams without having attended many lectures. Unlike at American universities, where drama is an official subject, the myriad Cambridge theater groups—such as Footlights—are completely student-run and separate from academic life. Soon Fry was appearing in numerous plays, often in kingly or other wise older roles. Though academia was his first choice, the more immersed Fry became in theater, both acting and writing, the more serious consideration he gave to it as a career. The descriptions of sketches and plays themselves, while important, pale in comparison to Fry’s intimate descriptions of the lifelong friendships he formed at school, particularly with Emma Thompson and writing partner Hugh Laurie, whom he describes as the “best and wisest man I have ever known, as Watson writes of Holmes.” Moving also are his ruminations on the nature of fame and his struggles with addiction and body issues. Honesty can be painful to read, but Fry is cheeky and thoughtful in equal measures, making this a must for his legion of fans. (Jan.)