Stephen Fry is bashful. Recounting achievements pains him. In a world where we’re used to knowing more about our television personalities than our neighbours, any glimpse into the lives of the glitterati can prove irresistible.

But what pleases Stephen Fry most is not on public display. It’s his inner work ethic.

Ask him to list his successes and you don’t get a verbal biography. Getting into Cambridge University after a stint in prison comes high up. This marked the first time the young Stephen Fry ever really worked hard at something, using his intellect for development rather than destruction. Winning the Perrier Prize at the Edinburgh fringe was another golden moment.


But with the pleasure comes the pain.

Stephen Fry’s first experience behind bars may have been the making of him, but his second – Simon Gray’s play “Cell Mates” – was very nearly his undoing. Walking out of the play at the beginning of its West End run Fry vanished. Contemplating suicide, he disappeared off to Belgium. The experience still haunts him, but the depression has now faded to embarrassment and the anger to forgiveness.

Stephen Fry is now a man content.

26 comments on “Personal & Professional”

  1. LovesickFerret says:

    Men of brilliance find acceptance of their “gift” a great burden.

  2. Satu66 says:

    Just wish Icould see more Stephens work :)

  3. HolyFuck says:

    Well he is obviously, what. Well, a man of communication. This site has been nicely put together, to a point. And the point no doubt comes next!

  4. vientiane says:

    Just listening to Stephen’s superb voices on any of ALL of the Harry Potter books on CDs is bliss! What a team, JKRowling and Stephen Fry!
    More please?x

  5. Norfolk and good says:

    Stephen, you give so much to so many. Thank you.

  6. karenmatthews says:

    Stephen, Im so cross with you …… many many many times Ive watched you on various tv programmes and you have stated MANY times you are not attractive!!!! Almost apologising for yourself. Im sitting here watching you on a Saturday night ” Stephen Fry in America” and I have had to switch the lap top on, register with you to tell you that is utter rubbish as you just said it again. Cant bear the thought of you thinking like that. Stop it. Email me I need to counsel you! Karen, Ampthill, Bedfordshire xx

  7. fry4pm says:

    Stephen, you are a National Treasure – my ideal dinner guest, I could listen to you for hours.

  8. OperaNut1972 says:

    I have always believed that people of creativity, whether musically literary or through the stage, will at some point succumb to the perils of depression. You are a great man, and you are the only person who gives permission to others to make you feel worthless. Keep it up you are one of my greatest influences.

  9. hoffers says:

    Hi Stephen & Stephen fans,

    My name is Gemma Hoffman I am 30.5 years old, 3 years ago almost to this day I found out quite dramatically that I have Bi Polar disorder. Oddly it was at this time that your programme was being aired about your & other celebrity experiences of this disease. My mum taped your series for me and a few weeks after i came out of rehab i was able to watch them (although painfully).
    I would like to thank you for using the influences you have and your outstanding courage to make that series. I have told my story to many people since and in many cases people have mentioned your programme, so it just shows that telling people about this disease makes it far easier for people to relate to.

    I still believe that there is much that can be done to educate people about this illness, and I (maybe naively) wondered whether you might like to know more about my story, not to harp on about the subject but I truly believe that you are the type of person that can really change the perception of this illness for many years to come.

    I really hope that you get to read this personally and will consider what I have written.

    If I believed in religion you would be my saint, once again thank you.


  10. fluffybex says:

    I hope you don’t mind me replying to you Gemma, You made me cry with the courage you have. I wish that my friend was able to watch Stephens programme and read you’re reply as she killed herself several years ago because she was diagnosed with Bi Polar.

    The doctors told her it was a disease, and would be on medication the rest of her life. She took it as she was ‘damaged’ and couldnt go on! It wasn’t common knowledge then, and to be absolutley honest, the doctors weren’t very helpfull.

    We all know now through Stephens programme its a disorder, and quite common. I think she would be alive today, if she had a little more help through people like Stephen and yourself telling their story.

    So i just want to thank you, and to wish you all the best.
    Thanks Bex xXx

    Ps, you are right, Saint Stephen, i will follow him to the ends of the earth, if he told me to. :-)

  11. NightBPD says:

    Well said Gemma…

  12. NCFCJAMES says:

    Hi Stephen i have been a great admirer of your work on various programmes i have seen including your appearance on Top Gear when you talked about grinder, and all your episodes of QI that i found very enlightening and helped me alot during some of my time at High school.And just recently i have seen youre programme of Last chance to see,which i found to be very interesting.

    But ultimately i am 17 and i would like some help regarding a difficult struggle with my sexuality im having and im finding hard to deal with and would like some help if you could please as i know you might have the same experience with how people would react.

    And lastly if you could send me an email or add me on twitter i would find it amazing and alot easier having someone to speak to as i know youre a twitterer.And ill also keep you upto date with norwich citys performances.Hopefully we can beat charlton this saturday.

    Thanks for reading,


    Twitter – NCFCJAMES

  13. Stephen Fry says:

    Gemma, very touched by your message. Thank you. It’s a well-worn cliché, but that sort of message really does make me feel that the programme was worth while. Just one person feeling less alone, less stigmatised, less of a freak – that would justify the programme budget on its own. Be well, S x

    PS: Thank you, Bex!

  14. hoffers says:

    Hi Bex & Stephen & NightBPD,

    Thank you both for your replies, I was extremely happy to hear from all of you.

    Bex – I am glad you think that my message might help people, I know for sure that Stephen’s documentary made all the difference to me!

    I am sad that I made you cry but glad that the message also brought you hope, I just wish that your friend could have shared the tears and hope with you!!

    This is something I feel extremely strongly about and hope to make a difference some how, so if anyone has any suggestions I would love to hear them? Name: Hoffyhoff (Twitter) as I am sure Stephen might want his page back :)

    If I can help change the perception of this illness even just for 1 person it would make me very happy.

    As I was told when diagnosed “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” and I think this is what spurred me onto getting better, and stay medicated, I have been back in full time employment since about 2 months after being in rehab and being diagnosed, so if I can do it anyone can.

    But the battle was accepting that for once in my life I was the one needing the help and not the one giving it. Once I realised I had a great support network of friends, family, my shrink and cpn’s that I could turn to when struggling – this made it all so much easier to deal with.

    So once again thanks Bex it’s nice to hear that I might be able to help someone out there.

    Stephen – to you again I just say simply that you are my Saint!

    NightBPD – also thank you for your words.

    Take care. Gemma x x

  15. Original_URL says:

    The comments on this post seem to gave degenerated into a ‘catch-all’ discussion about depression and it’s many forms. Due to this I feel I should add my “2 bits” as the septics might say [feel it's appropriate given your present lodgings] not for any sort of recognition or attention on your part, simply because I’ve learnt my bad habits.

    I have.. I don’t really like the term “suffered” or any other negatively connoted term.. let’s “dealt with” manic depression for a while. Quite a while. In fact, I was one of the few people who was on Amitriptyline before they [rightly] ceased it’s prescription for depression. So I would just like to say for a long time I suffered in silence, completely unaware I had any sort of problem. Even when I was first put on medication I still had no idea what I was suffering from, if anything. Then your programme was aired, and though I had been diagnosed and given some basic information by that point, it was like I finally had an answer, a reason for what was going on. I can safely say that was the point when I started to gain a measure of control over my little troll. For that, and many other things, I must thank you.

    Now that the pleasantries are out of the way, what I really wanted to say =)
    One of my pet hates, from day one of gaining that little troll, is the constant desire for the media and every other pseudo “politically correct” individual to call it “Bi-Polar Disorder”. IT truly irritates me. It’s as if they’re trying to force stigma onto it, to make it sound like Schizophrenia or some sort of Psychosis or, and this is even worse, make it sound like ADHD or one of the other hundred made up diseases. It’s Manic Depression, as you yourself stated in your documentary, and nothing else.
    The other thing is that medication for the rest of ones life is not necessary, as everybody seems to think. In fact, the majority of drugs may well have no effect for most people. I myself have been on almost every drug short of Lithium, every one of which has eventually become ineffective. I have been off medication for almost a year now, preferring to use habits and techniques to channel my negative emotions.

    Apologies for the tl;dr post, but I felt some things needed to be said. I myself don’t have the support system certain people like to crow on about, but I cope fine. I do, however, know that what stops many people from talking to their doctor about these things is the medication, so I just felt it was my duty to point out that it is not the only way, and is never a requirement for anybody.

    Yours [anti-socially],

    P.S. I came here from a Fry Original Tweet © I had a way of wittily slipping it into my spiel, but I forget what it was.

  16. hoffers says:

    Crow on about? – I take it your referring to me? Well by support system I mean friends and family mainly and it’s very sad if you have neither of these people supporting you and being there to listen to you and generally be in your life.

    Surely it really doesn’t matter what’s it’s called its all just the same thing. As long as people make the names into a big thing the stigma will continue. It really doesn’t matter what it’s called!

    Who said that medication is the only way? It’s different for everyone with the illness, as to it’s effectively and so anyone who is insular enough to believe that only their opinion is correct is only a fool unto themselves. I believe that the best thing is to try everything and see what works for you personally.

    I myself have been on Lithium for 3 years and it has worked perfectly well for me in line with my positive mental attitude and using many relaxation techniques that I have researched myself!

    I think it’s sad that you have replied with such a negative manner, although I can understand that we all feel very differently about this matter.

    I hope that you stay well and have many happy years to come.

    Yours (happily)


  17. SarahAlton says:

    Hello Sir –

    A long time ago – when the earth was young and so was I – I attended Cundall Manor Prep School. I suspect you may remember it. Now, I cannot claim that you were my teacher – I was 7, so my memory is a tad hazy. However, in the school photo that you use in “Moab is my Washpot”, I’m sitting on your right foot.

    I’m posting this for a few reasons. The first is that I absolutely love that you are my only claim to fame – I did not realise you were at Cundall until I found an old school photo about 10 years ago. The second is that I have a very strong memory of a teacher who was very strict towards those he thought were misbehaving and made us stand in a corner on one leg, chalk dust on our noses and with the board rubber balanced on our heads. I remember the teacher who did this as being fairly young and I’ve wondered if it was you. However, I suspect it was Mr Vernon – he was always a bit mean, and I always preferred Mr Robinson and Mrs Helpes anyway.

    But the main reason I’m posting this is that I recently revisited Cundall and they’re missing a few school photos. I would offer my 1979 school pic, but my mother kept it in the back of a drawer and there’s a very attractive brown stain from the varnish in the drawer – from the left of the picture to the right. So, is there any chance at all you could provide a photo for 1979? I do know the school would be terribly grateful – and this is above and beyond the favours you’ve already provided. Best school video ever!

    Even if you you can’t help with this, I’m still curious to know if it was you or Mr Vernon.

    With best wishes and a certain curiosity,

    Sarah Alton

  18. Hutch says:

    Hi Stephen,

    I wish i had your talent. I wish i had your agent too. Who ever they are, they are certainly keeping you busy with TV appearances, hosting quiz shows, comedy series, voiceovers, travel series etc.

    I am an actor but have not had as much as an audition in 3 years.
    Any advice will be really helpful.

    Best Regards

  19. LK says:

    Dear Mr. Fry, Mr. Sampson, and also Mr. Davies,

    I’m sorry to intrude on your time, but I have a brief question. I work in emergency healthcare and also do development work in Sub-Saharan Africa. As you might imagine, this can be very difficult work, and at times I become extremely depressed at the way humans treat each other. However, I’ve found that QI is a wonderful form of escapism, and can almost always cheer me up. It portrays the world I would like to imagine we live in, where people are educated, erudite, and good-natured.

    I would like to support your work in making QI, but I live in the US where you can’t purchase it on DVD or see it on TV. Because of this, I downloaded all 6 seasons off the internet, and I can’t really say I regret it. However, I would like to express my gratitude financially in some way; to this end, I would like to make a $200 donation to a non-profit or charitable organization of your choosing, perhaps one with a focus on bipolar disorder. I’m sorry that it can’t be a larger amount, but I might be able to give more in the future. Please let me express again my gratitude for the work you do.

    Thank you for your time,

  20. Suheywood says:

    I would love to reach contentment in my life. Your a lucky man indeed.

  21. likevsy says:

    I think it is us who are lucky, a breath of fresh air you are.

  22. Paul of the woods says:

    I have no Interest in the glitterati, but stephen does stand out as different, moedest, sensitive, kind and respectful of others, You can’t class him as glitterati because to his fans hes like a friend or a kind uncle, someone that seems to be able to reach out and touch our hearts just by being himself.

  23. msdiogenes says:

    Thank you so much for such a clear and concise website. I still have the letter and pic you sent to me a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Mine was the stationary with the Suzi’s zoo cat and sticker. Thanks for personalizing the pic and letter by the way. You are a very nice man. I’m writing my own novel now. And I’ve written some poetry. Got a start on your book about that and trying to get my tiny mind around it. I hear what you are saying. But sometimes you (people) just have to write….and whatever form that comes out in is just what it is……. Not saying anything everybody writes is worthy of publishing but it IS a form of self expression. And I just gotta be me. But I’ll keep reading on.

  24. Selous says:

    You are, quite simply, ‘The Man’, Stephen. Do you have any idea just how cool you are? You are an intellectual inspiration, and a Celebrity of real celebrity. I can honestly say that the world is a better place for you being in it. Anyway, enough of the soppiness. Good man, keep it up.

  25. BP Disorderee says:


    I just want to say that having recently been diagnosed BP it has been a great comfort to watch your documentary and know that im not alone. Its given me the hope that one day, when i have come to terms with it, i will be able to reach for my dreams and overcome the stigma.

    In addition i have been endlessly watching QI and its been fantastic in making me smile and laugh when things seem so dark and desolate.

    Keep up the good work. You’re a legend and a lot of people can learn a lot from you

    BP Disorderee (Becs)

  26. Claudine03 says:

    I love u Stephen Fry!
    When I read about the Belgium thing, I then thought about you and what make you you, and in hindsight, its weird noone realised it before that. You are a talkative fella!!! and quite the genius.
    It made my really happy that you can be so open and honest about it. I have it, but only a little. Watching your videos about it gave me comfort.

    Keep doing you thing


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