Christopher Frayling

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Christopher Frayling (left) at the University of Bath in 2015.

Sir Christopher John Frayling (born 25 December 1946) is a British educationalist and writer, known for his study of popular culture.

Early life and education[edit]

Christopher Frayling was born in Hampton, a suburb of London, in affluent circumstances.[1] His father, Major Arthur Frederick Frayling, OBE (1910–1993),[2] late of the Royal Army Service Corps,[3] was chairman of the Hudson's Bay fur auction house in London and of the International Fur Trade Federation;[4] his mother, Barbara Kathleen ("Betty") Imhof, the daughter of record and audio equipment store owner Alfred Imhof, was a driver in international car rallies, and won the RAC Rally with her brother, Godfrey Imhof, in 1952.[5][6][7][8] His brother, Nicholas, was Dean of Chichester Cathedral from 2002-2014.

After attending Repton School,[9] Christopher Frayling read history at Churchill College, Cambridge and gained a PhD in the study of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. He was appointed a Fellow of the college in 2009.[citation needed]


Frayling taught history at the University of Bath[10][11] and was awarded an Honorary Degree (Doctor of Arts) from that University in 2003. In 1979, Frayling was appointed Professor of Cultural History at London's post-graduate art and design school, the Royal College of Art. Frayling was Rector of the Royal College of Art from 1996 to 2009.[12]

In 2003, he was awarded the Sir Misha Black Award and was added to the College of Medallists.[13] He was the Chairman of Arts Council England from 2005 until January 2009.[14] He served as Chairman of the Design Council, Chairman of the Royal Mint Advisory Committee, and a Trustee of the Victoria and Albert Museum. He was a governor of the British Film Institute in the 1980s. [citation needed]

In April 2014, he was appointed Chancellor of the Arts University Bournemouth.[15]

He has had a wide output as a writer and critic on subjects ranging from vampires to westerns. He has written and presented television series such as The Art of Persuasion on advertising and Strange Landscape on the Middle Ages. He has conducted a series of radio and television interviews with figures from the world of film, including Woody Allen, Deborah Kerr, Ken Adam, Francis Ford Coppola and Clint Eastwood. He has written and presented several television series, including The Face of Tutankhamun[16] and Nightmare: Birth of Horror.

He studied Spaghetti Westerns and specifically director Sergio Leone. He has written a very popular biography of Leone, Something To Do With Death (2000); helped run the Los Angeles-based Gene Autry Museum's exhibit on Leone in 2005; and appeared in numerous documentaries about Leone and his films, particularly the DVD documentaries of Once Upon a Time in the West (1968). He also provided audio commentaries for the special edition DVD releases of A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, Once Upon a Time in the West and The Colossus of Rhodes. [citation needed]

In January 2018, he gave a lecture at the British Library in the Hogwarts Curriculum Lecture series on "Defence against the Dark Arts". This specialised in the treatment of vampires.[17]


In 2001, he was awarded a knighthood for "Services to Art and Design Education" and chose as his motto "PERGE SCELUS MIHI DIEM PERFICIAS", which can be translated as "Proceed, varlet, and let the day be rendered perfect for my benefit".[18]


Coat of arms of Christopher Frayling
(upon a helm with a wreath Or and Sable): A Dodo Sable beaked and legged Or grasping in the dexter foot a Goblet Argent enflamed Or.
Or between three Owls volant affronty bendwise sinister two Bendlets sinister Sable thereon square Billets in bend sinister Argent.
Perge Scelus Mihi Diem Perficias


A Saquaro Cactus couped Sable ribbed Or.

Select bibliography[edit]


  • Napoleon Wrote Fiction (1972)
  • The Vampyre (1978); Gollanz
    • Expanded as Vampyres: Lord Byron to Count Dracula (1991); Faber & Faber
    • Expanded as Vampyres: Genesis and Resurrection from Count Dracula to Vampirella (2016); Thames & Hudson
  • Nightmare: Birth of Horror (1996)
  • On Craftsmanship: towards a new Bauhaus (2011)
  • The Yellow Peril – Dr Fu Manchu and the Rise of Chinophobia (2014)
  • Inside the Bloody Chamber: on Angela Carter, the Gothic and other weird tales (2015)


  • The Face of Tutankhamun (1992)
  • Strange Landscape: Journey Through the Middle Ages (1995)


  • Spaghetti Westerns: Cowboys and Europeans from Karl May to Sergio Leone (1981)
  • American Westerners (1984)
  • Clint Eastwood (1992)
  • Things to Come (1995)
  • Sergio Leone: Something To Do With Death (2000)
  • Mad, Bad and Dangerous?: The Scientist and the Cinema (2005)
  • Sergio Leone: Once Upon a Time in Italy (2005)
  • Ken Adam: The Art of Production Design (2005)
  • Once Upon a Time in The West Shooting a Masterpiece (2019)


  • The Royal College of Art: One Hundred and Fifty Years of Art and Design (1987)
  • Design of the Times: One Hundred Years of the Royal College of Art (1996)
  • The Art Pack (1998)

List of audio commentaries[edit]


  1. ^ "BBC Radio 4 - Desert Island Discs, Christopher Frayling". 7 November 2003. Retrieved 16 July 2017.
  2. ^ "Obituary: Arthur Frayling". 11 March 1993.
  3. ^ Supplement to the London Gazette, 23 August 1940, p. 5146
  4. ^ "BBC Radio 4 - Desert Island Discs, Christopher Frayling". 7 November 2003. Retrieved 16 July 2017.
  5. ^ Debrett's People of Today, Debrett's Peerage Ltd, 2006, p. 573
  6. ^ Contemporary Authors, Scot Peacock, ed. Pamela Dear, Gale, 2001, p. 158
  7. ^ Darren Galpin. "1952 Miscellaneous Rallies". Retrieved 16 July 2017.
  8. ^ Christopher Frayling profile, Accessed 19 January 2023.
  9. ^ Jones, Jonathan (12 December 2003). "The Guardian profile: Sir Christopher Frayling". The Guardian.
  10. ^ "Professor Sir Christopher Frayling". Honorary Awards. Sheffield Hallam University. Retrieved 27 September 2018.
  11. ^ "Sir Christopher Frayling". Honorary Degrees. Nottingham Trent University. Retrieved 27 September 2018.
  12. ^ "RCA Announces Rector's Departure in Summer 2009". Royal College of Art. 29 January 2009. Archived from the original on 11 June 2011. Retrieved 18 April 2010.
  13. ^ "The Sir Misha Black Medal". Misha Black Awards. Archived from the original on 29 December 2016. Retrieved 16 July 2017.
  14. ^ Higgins, Charlotte (29 January 2010). "Arts Council Chief Frayling Departs". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 April 2010.
  15. ^ "AUB appoints Sir Christopher Frayling as new Chancellor". Arts University Bournemouth. 7 April 2014.
  16. ^ "The Face of Tutankhamun". BBC. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
  17. ^ "The Hogwarts Curriculum Lectures - Defence Against The Dark Arts". British Library. 22 January 2018.
  18. ^ "The Arms, Crest and Badge of Sir Christopher Frayling, Kt. - College of Arms". Retrieved 19 January 2023.
  19. ^ "The Arms, Crest and Badge of Sir Christopher Frayling, Kt. - College of Arms". Retrieved 19 January 2023.

External links[edit]

Media related to Christopher Frayling at Wikimedia Commons

Media offices
Preceded by Chair of Arts Council England
Succeeded by