Plantagenet Somerset Fry

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Plantagenet Somerset Fry
Born Peter George Robin Fry
3 January 1931
Died 10 September 1996[1]
Wattisfield, Suffolk, England, UK
Education Lancing College and St. Thomas's Hospital Medical School and St Catherine's College, Oxford
Occupation Writer
Spouse(s) Audrey Russell, Daphne York, Leri Butler, Fiona Whitcombe
Parents Peter Kenneth Llewellyn Fry and Ruth Emily (née Marriott)

Plantagenet Somerset Fry, born Peter George Robin Fry (3 January 1931 – 10 September 1996), was a British historian and author of more than 50 books.[2] In his youth he added Somerset to his surname by deed poll, and Plantagenet was a nickname which he adopted at university, relating to his advocacy of Richard III.[3]

Early life[edit]

Peter George Robin Fry was born in 1931, and was the third child and only son of a distinguished naval officer and pianist.[3] He was educated at Lancing College in West Sussex, and St. Thomas's Hospital Medical School, London, but did not do well at either institution.

After failing his exams, he had to leave St. Thomas's after a year. From this point on his father refused to subsidise him any more, so Fry found employment as a librarian and projectionist with the National Film Board of Canada. In 1952 he inherited some money from his grandmother, left his job and married, against his parents' wishes, Audrey Russell whom he had known at medical school. After spending all his money, and failing another degree, Fry became a schoolteacher at Wallop School in Weybridge, Surrey.[3]

In 1954, Fry went to Oxford University to study law and history. Needing more money, he twice took part in the television game show Double Your Money, and won the jackpot of £512,[2] making him somewhat of a celebrity, and had his first book, Mysteries of History, published, soon followed by a biography of Elizabeth I. This was the start of a successful writing career, and over the years he wrote numerous popular books about history for adults and for children, as well as books about antiques. He started the Council for Independent Archaeology.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Although Fry's professional life was successful, his personal life was unhappy. His first marriage to Audrey Russell was dissolved in 1957, and the following year he married Daphne York. However, she was soon diagnosed with an incurable form of kidney cancer, although Fry never let her know it. After her death in 1961, he set up a medical research trust in her memory. He then married Leri Butler, a divorcée 24 years his senior. The marriage ended in divorce in 1973, and the following year he married Fiona Whitcombe, who survived him. He was the victim of several car crashes, one of which made him into a wheelchair user for many years.[citation needed]

Death[edit]

In 1996, Fry was told he was dying of bowel cancer, but he refused treatment, and suffocated himself with a plastic bag at his home in Wattisfield, Suffolk at the age of 65,[3] after writing a letter explaining his actions to the coroner.[2]

Selected works[edit]

  • Kings and Queens of England and Scotland
  • Castles: England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland
  • History of the World
  • 1000 Great Lives
  • The Zebra Book of Famous Women

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b cix.co.uk accessed 11 December 2007
  2. ^ a b c Obituary, The (London) Independent, Roy Calne, 21 September 1996 accessed 11 December 2007
  3. ^ a b c d ArchiveHub accessed 11 December 2007