Charles Fry

College: Wadham

Charles Burgess Fry was born in Croydon on 25th April 1872. He won a scholarship to Oxford where he immediately excelled at sport. During his time at Oxford he won twelve blues and was at one stage captain of Football and Cricket and President of the Athletics Club. He equalled the World Long Jump Record of 23 feet, 5 inches at Iffley Road despite never having been trained in the event. He also played rugby for the University, but injury prevented him from getting his blue. An extremely handsome man, his nicknames included "Charles III", "Almighty" and "Lord Oxford", and it is said that he did nothing to play down the adulation he received.

He was not, however, as brilliant academically as is often stated. Iain Wilton's 2002 "King of Sport" records that Fry "entered the examination room for Finals an untrained man, having scarcely read a line for weeks... two and a half years after distinguishing himself in Classical Moderations, C.B. suffered the indignity of scraping a Fourth."

On leaving Oxford Fry joined Corinthians, and in 1898 he turned professional, joining Southampton Football Club. He played in the 1902 FA Cup Final and played one match for England before retiring from the game in 1903. He was most famous as a cricketer, however, captaining Sussex and England and scoring 30,000 first class runs, including 94 centuries, at an average of over 50. He scored six consecutive centuries in 1901, a feat that has been equalled only by Bradman. As captain of England he never lost a Test match. He formed a formidable opening partnership for both club and country with Prince Ranjitsinhji, who became one of his best friends.

Away from sport, Fry was a gifted writer. He published the popular ''Fry's magazine'' and wrote many cricket books, a bestselling novel and an autobiography. He was also a teacher at Charterhouse.

After the First World War, Ranjitsinghi invited Fry to be one of India's representatives at the League of Nations. In Geneva a delegation from Albania tried to recruit Fry as King of Albania, but he did not have the required income of 10,000 Sterling per year.

Fry stood for Parliament as a Liberal three times, but failed each time. He met Hitler in 1934 and was impressed; he expressed enthusiasm for the Nazis until 1938 and failed to persuade von Ribbentrop that Germany should take up cricket to Test level.

Fry married Beatrice Sumner in 1898, a disastrous mistake for she did not love him and made his life a misery. The domineering Beatrice was ten years older than him and the lifelong mistress of the wealthy banker Charles Hoare. Fry suffered a nervous breakdown in the 1920s and became thoroughly paranoid. He began to dress in eccentric clothes and developed a horror of Indians including Ranjitsinghi, his best friend who had supported him through his illness. He was never well again and underwent electric shock therapy in his later years.

He died on 7th September 1956 in Hampstead, aged 84.

Sources: Wikipedia (en.wikipedia.org), Cricinfo (www.cricinfo.com), New Statesman (www.newstatesman.com), Franklyn Cards (www.franklyncards.com), The Answer Bank (www.theanswerbank.co.uk)