Alexander Fiske-Harrison

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Alexander Fiske-Harrison
AF-H writing by Paloma.jpg
Born (1976-07-22) 22 July 1976 (age 42)
Occupationwriter, actor

Alexander Rupert Fiske-Harrison (born 22 July 1976) is an English prize-winning author and journalist, broadcaster and conservationist.[1] His writing has been noted for his immersion in his subject matter.[2] He also trained and worked for some years as a Method actor.[3]

For his first book Into The Arena: The World Of The Spanish Bullfight, which was shortlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award 2011, he became a bullfighter.

For his second, The Bulls Of Pamplona, to which the Mayor of Pamplona wrote the foreword, he became a bull-runner.[4]

His short story "Les Invincibles" was the first by a British author to be shortlisted for Le Prix Hemingway, 'The Hemingway Prize', in France in 2016.[5]

He is currently researching wolves, dogs and human-canine interactions and common history for a book provisionally titled The Land Of Wolves.

Background and personal life[edit]

He is the youngest son of Clive Fiske Harrison,[6][7] chairman of Fiske plc, where he is also a non-executive director.[8] His brother Jules William Fiske Harrison was, according to The Times, a "famously skilled and fearless skier" who died in a skiing accident in Zermatt, Switzerland in 1988.[9]

Fiske-Harrison studied biological sciences and philosophy at the University of Oxford and as a postgraduate at the University of London.[10] He also trained at the acting school, the Stella Adler Conservatory in New York City, when Marlon Brando was its chairman.[11] (He was consultant on the Academy Award-shortlisted Universal Pictures' documentary on Brando, Listen To Me Marlon, as he was on the Academy Award-winner Chuck Workman's documentary on Orson Welles.)[12][13]


Fiske-Harrison has written for various newspapers and magazine including The Times,[14] Financial Times,[15] Daily Telegraph,[16] The Times Literary Supplement,[17] GQ[18] The Spectator,[19] and Prospect[20] and has been himself featured in magazines such as Condé Nast's Tatler.[21]

He has been interviewed and provided commentary on various broadcast media outlets including the BBC,[22] CNN,[23] Al-Jazeera,[24] Discovery Channel,[25] US National Public Radio.[26] and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation National Radio.[27]

He has also written in Spanish for ABC[28] and El Norte de Castilla[29] and has been himself featured in magazines such as ¡Hola! (Spanish parent of Hello! magazine.)[30]


Fiske-Harrison has spoken in interviews of his lifelong interest in conservation,[31] and has written extensively on the related subjects of animal intelligence and animal welfare.[32]

He has written on wolves[33] and dogs,[34] cattle and horses,[35] and apes.[36] He often focuses on human perception of, and interaction with, animals.[37]



Fiske-Harrison toreando, 'bullfighting', in Palma del Río, Córdoba province, Spain

A controversial essay on bullfighting for Prospect magazine[38] in September 2008 led Fiske-Harrison to move to Spain to further research the topic. He lived, trained and fought alongside matadors including the one-eyed Juan José Padilla, Cayetano Rivera Ordóñez – whose father Paquirri was killed in the ring, and grandfather Antonio Ordóñez the subject of Hemingway's The Dangerous Summer – and Eduardo Dávila Miura of the famous Miura bull family. He wrote about his experiences on his blog The Last Arena: In Search of the Spanish Bullfight.[39] In September 2009 the journalist Giles Coren visited him in Spain and described him as: "Very brave. Very British. Very Charge of the Light Brigade. Very trenches. Very scary."[40]

Into The Arena: The World Of The Spanish Bullfight[edit]

In 2011 Profile Books published his Into The Arena: The World of the Spanish Bullfight. The Mail on Sunday gave it four stars, saying, "his descriptions of the fights are compelling and lyrical... One begins to understand what has captivated Spaniards for centuries."[41] The Sunday Times said that "it provides an engrossing introduction to Spain's 'great feast of art and danger'",[42] the Sunday Telegraph said, it was "a compelling read, unusual for its genre, exalting the bullfight as pure theatre,"[43] and the Financial Times called it, "an engrossing introduction to bullfighting."[44]

In answer to Animal Welfare and Animal Rights concerns, the Daily Mail said that although Fiske-Harrison "develops a taste for the whole gruesome spectacle, what makes the book work is that he never loses his disgust for it,"[45] the Financial Times said, "it's to Fiske-Harrison's credit that he never quite gets over his moral qualms about bullfighting," and the Literary Review concluded: "The question of whether a modern society should endorse animal suffering as entertainment is bound to cross the mind of any casual visitor to a bullfight. Alexander Fiske-Harrison first tussled with the issue in his early twenties and, as a student of both philosophy and biology, has perhaps tussled with it more lengthily and cogently than most of us."[46]


Fiske-Harrison, circled, running among the bulls of Torrestrella on calle Estafeta in Pamplona

As part of his researches in 2009 Fiske-Harrison began running with the bulls in Pamplona,[47][48] and became a part of the 'Runners Team of the World',[49] and continued to do it across the rest of Spain, including the encierros, 'bull-runs', of the Navarran towns of Tafalla and Falces - where the run is down a mountain path beside a sheer drop called 'El Pilón'[50]- in the Madrid suburb of San Sebastián de los Reyes and the ancient castle of Cuéllar in Old Castile,[51][52] which hosts the oldest encierro, 'bull-run' in Spain,[53] and where he was awarded a prize for writing about the encierros in 2013.[54] He has written and spoken on the subject widely, including for Bear Grylls on the Discovery Channel[55] and for the Esquire Network's coverage of the Pamplona running of the bulls.[56][57]

The Bulls Of Pamplona[edit]

In Spring 2014 Fiske-Harrison co-authored and edited the book The Bulls Of Pamplona. It included a foreword from the Mayor of Pamplona and contributions from famous living aficionados of the festival of San Fermín, including John Hemingway, grandson of Ernest Hemingway, Beatrice Welles, daughter of Orson Welles, along with chapters of advice from the most experienced American and Spanish bull-runners such as Joe Distler,[58] and former Texan rodeo champion Larry Belcher, the late Julen Madina,[59] and Jokin Zuasti[60] and photographs from EPA veteran Jim Hollander.


Fiske-Harrison's acting debut was as Govianus in The Second Maiden's Tragedy at the Hackney Empire theatre in London.[61] He has also acted on the German stage[62] and in independent film in the UK and Italy.[63]

The Pendulum[edit]

The Pendulum
The Pendulum - Before The Duel (small).JPG
Alexander Fiske-Harrison & Gareth Kennerley
Written byAlexander Fiske-Harrison
Date premiered3 June 2008
Place premieredJermyn Street Theatre, West End, London

The play is a two-act four-hander set in 1900 Vienna. Its first production was in the summer of 2008 at the Jermyn Street Theatre, in London's West End.[64]

Michael Billington in The Guardian gave it three stars and said, "Fiske-Harrison has clearly done his homework: he understands, for instance, the tensions between Franz Joseph’s imperial benevolence and the antisemitism of Vienna’s populist mayor, Karl Lueger. The author himself plays the disintegrating hero with the right poker-backed irascibility... while it is refreshing to find a new play that gets away from bedsit angst, one wonders why Fiske-Harrison has tackled this subject now. If there are contemporary parallels, they are not obvious, and one comes away with the sensation of having seen an accomplished, but oddly impersonal, historical play."[65] The Sunday Times described it as "something earnest, nicely acted – if a little contained – but as far from the wildness of Schnitzler or the darkness of Schiele as you can possibly imagine".[66]


  1. ^ 'Biography', Alexander Fiske-Harrison website
  2. ^ Owen, James 'Where Hemingway Feared To Tread', Mail on Sunday. 10 July 2011
  3. ^ Hodgkinson, Thomas. 'A new literary movement: You have method actors, so why not method authors?', The Independent. 1 February 2016
  4. ^ Fiske-Harrison, Alexander 'A Good Run' The Spectator, 14 July 2012
  5. ^ M., R. 'Nîmes : six nouvelles du prix Hemingway lues dans les chiqueros des arènes' Midi Libre, 5 May 2016
  6. ^ Winter, Laura. "Clive Fiske Harrison" Archived 15 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine.. Debrett's People of Today 2012
  7. ^ Fiske Harrison of Layer de la Haye Burke's Peerage
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 3 February 2015. Retrieved 3 February 2015.
  9. ^ Coren, Giles. 'How do I hate skiing?', The Times 21 March 2009
  10. ^ 'Biography',
  11. ^ Profile Books Author page Alexander Fiske-Harrison
  12. ^ Alexander Fiske-Harrison on IMDb
  13. ^ Template:IMdB title
  14. ^ Fiske-Harrison, Alexander 'Who to back in the Grand National? Not the tipsters' The Times. 12 April 2012
  15. ^ Fiske-Harrison, Alexander. 'Talking with apes', Financial Times. 24 November 2001
  16. ^ Fiske-Harrison, Alexander 'To the Spanish bullfighting is much more than just a sport' Daily Telegraph. 25 November 2011
  17. ^ Fiske-Harrison, Alexander. 'Can computers converse?', The Times Literary Supplement. 9 June 2000
  18. ^ Fiske-Harrison, Alexander 'The Last Matador', GQ. September 2012
  19. ^ Fiske-Harrison, Alexander 'Warrior: The Story of the real warhorse', The Spectator, 21 January 2012
  20. ^ Fiske-Harrison, Alexander. 'On Philosophers and Wolves', Prospect. 22 January 2009
  21. ^ Compston, Harriet. 'Hottie Ahoy!', Tatler. July 2008
  22. ^ Lewis, Alun 'testbeds: Artificial Intelligence' Archived 7 May 2009 at the Wayback Machine., BBC Radio 4, 17 February 2000
  23. ^ 'The future of bullfighting in Spain', CNN, 28 July 2010
  24. ^ [1] 'Bullfighting debate with Alexander Fiske-Harrison and Jordi Casamitjana', Al-Jazeera, September 2008
  25. ^ Frayer, Lauren [2] Archived 20 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine. 'World's Scariest Animal Attacks', Mentorn TV. 16 August 2012
  26. ^ Bullfighting in Spain Stays Alive Despite Regional Ban', NPR. 28 September 2011.
  27. ^ Doogue, Geraldine. 'Into the bullfighting arena', ABC National Radio. 4 August 2012
  28. ^ Pina, Marina 'De Eton a Cuéllar, en un solo encierro', ABC. 31 August 2013
  29. ^ Fiske-Harrison, Alexander 'Gracias, Cuéllar, desde Londres' El Norte de Castilla. 3 September 2012
  30. ^ Sánchez, Mamen. 'Alexander Fiske-Harrison, the English ‘gentleman’ who one day became an expert on bullfighting' (English translation, ¡Hola!. 13 May 2015
  31. ^ Sánchez, Mamen. 'Alexander Fiske-Harrison, el 'gentleman' inglés que un día se convirtió en un experto del toreo ', ¡Hola!. 13 May 2015
  32. ^ Fiske-Harrison, Alexander. 'Morality and Mortality: our views of animal others', Prospect, December 2007
  33. ^ Fiske-Harrison, Alexander. 'Four legs good, two legs bad', Prospect. February 2009
  34. ^ Fiske-Harrison, Alexander. The Ancient Contract Between Man And Wolf', Taki's Magazine. 4 April 2013
  35. ^ Machuga, J. Félix. 'Los caballos siempre quieren darnos lo mejor que tienen', ABC. 2 May 2013
  36. ^ Fiske-Harrison, Alexander. 'Weekend FT Cover Essay: Talking with apes', Financial Times. 24 November 2001
  37. ^ Fiske-Harrison, Alexander. 'If we could talk to the animals...', Frieze. November 2003
  38. ^ Fiske-Harrison, Alexander. 'A Noble Death', Prospect. September 2008
  39. ^ Davis, Clive. 'In the arena' Archived 17 April 2009 at the Wayback Machine., The Spectator. 2 March 2009
  40. ^ Coren, Giles. 'Mad bulls and Englishmen', The Times 26 December 2009
  41. ^ Owen, James 'Where Hemingway Feared To Tread', Mail on Sunday. 10 July 2011
  42. ^ Schofield, Brian 'Review: Into The Arena by Alexander Fiske-Harrison', Sunday Times. 29 May 2011
  43. ^ Brown, Oliver 'Books for Christmas: Sport Books: Into The Arena', Sunday Telegraph. 27 November 2011
  44. ^ Eltringham, Dan 'Books: Non-fiction: Into The Arena', Financial Times. 4 June 2011
  45. ^ Palmer, Mark 'Etonian Matador Who Triumphs In The Bullring' Daily Mail. 26 May 2011
  46. ^ France, Miranda 'Blood, Sweat and tears', Literary Review. August 2011
  47. ^ Fiske-Harrison, Alexander 'A Good Run', The Spectator, 14 July 2012
  48. ^ Fiske-Harrison, Alexander [3], The Spectator, 26 October 2013
  49. ^ 7del7 Runner Team del Mundo Archived 21 January 2014 at
  50. ^ 'My article ‘See you soon, Cuéllar’ in El Norte de Castilla' The Last Arena, 14 September 2014
  51. ^ Fiske-Harrison, Alexander 'Gracias, Cuéllar, desde Londres', 'El Norte de Castilla', 3 September 2012
  52. ^ Fiske-Harrison, Alexander 'Y una vez más, gracias, Cuéllar, desde Londres', 'El Norte de Castilla', 2 September 2013
  53. ^ Fiske-Harrison, Alexander 'The real, old stuff', Financial Times, 31 May 2013
  54. ^ Ernes 'Galardonados con el trofeo Ehtoro a la divulgación del encierro de Cuéllar' Archived 1 November 2013 at the Wayback Machine.,, 27 June 2013
  55. ^ IMDb page
  56. ^ 'Running Of The Bulls 2015:A democratic sport' Archived 17 July 2015 at the Wayback Machine., Esquire TV
  57. ^ 'Running Of The Bulls 2015: Why do Americans keep getting gored', Esquire TV
  58. ^ Distler, Joe 'Why I will run the bulls again' New York Times, 6 July 2010
  59. ^ 'Julen Madina: Cinco Cornadas Incrementan Su Leyenda' (Julen Madina: Five Gorings Increase His Legend) ABC, 14 July 2004
  60. ^ 'La tradicion por encima de todo' (Tradition above all) El Pais, 15 July 2009
  61. ^ "London Theatre Database page". Archived from the original on 24 July 2011. Retrieved 6 February 2009.
  62. ^ "'Alone Together':Familienkomödie im English Theatre", Die Welt. 23 November 2007
  63. ^ [4] IMDb page
  64. ^
  65. ^ Billington, Michael. 'Theatre Review: The Pendululm', The Guardian. 9 June 2008
  66. ^ Wise, Louis. 'Theatre Review: The Pendulum, Jermyn Street, SW1'. Sunday Times 15 June 2008

External links[edit]