He was born in Oxford, the youngest of four children of Patricia (née Laidlaw) and William George Ranald Mundell Laurie, both Presbyterians of Scottish descent. Hugh Laurie notes that
"belief in God didn't play a large role in my home, but a certain attitude to life and the living of it did." He followed this by stating, "pleasure was something that was treated with great suspicion, pleasure was something that... I was going to say it had to be earned but even the earning of it didn't really work. It was something to this day, I mean, I carry that with me. I find pleasure a difficult thing; I don't know what you do with it, I don't know where to put it."I saw him elsewhere on television, emphasizing once again how miserable he was because he so enjoyed his work on House. This fear of pleasure and expectation misery is pretty common amongst Presbyterian Scots and their descendants.
Wikipedia, quoting an interview with The Actor's Studio
Born in Oxford, he went, of course, to Cambridge, joining Selwyn College, the same college his father attended. (This was after he attended Eton, that very private public school) His father represented Britain in the 1948 London Olympic Games and won a gold medal in the coxless (pairs) rowing. Hugh naturally took up rowing at Cambridge, did very well in it, winning multiple ribbons and awards. He still belongs to the Leander Club, one of the oldest rowing clubs in the world. (As an aside, shortly after writing this paragraph I picked up a mystery revolving around the death of a rower at the Leander Club. Quite a coincidence, except that as any mystery reader knows, there are no coincidences. And now, back to Hugh.)
While at Cambridge, he joined the Footlights Club where he met Emma Thompson who introduced him to Stephen Fry. (Can you just imagine the rehearsals these three put together?) Laurie and Fry co-wrote an annual review, "The Cellar Tapes" which the three performed in Edinburgh's Fringe Festival, winning the first Perrier Comedy Award. It was picked up for a run in London's West End theater district as well as a television show.
Laurie did not graduate Cambridge, but moved to London and pursued a career in television, stage and film with his writing partner Stephen Fry. Some of their best known work includes "Blackadder", "A Bit of Fry and Laurie," and "Jeeves and Wooster," based on the P.G. Wodehouse work. They also did work on the concert stage and Laurie has appeared in films, including a brief role in Emma Thompson's "Sense and Sensibility." In 2004, he began his role as Dr. Gregory House in Fox's "House" television series,
for which he received two Golden Globe awards, two Screen Actors Guild awards, and six Emmy nominations. He has been listed in the 2011 Guinness Book of World Records as the highest paid actor ever in a TV Drama, earning £250,000 per episode in House, and for being the most watched leading man on television.Musically, he has mastered the piano, saxophone, drums, guitar, and harmonica. He is also a vocalist and keyboard player, has performed at jazz festivals worldwide and released his album, Let Them Talk in 2011.
Here he is performing Unchain my Heart on the Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson in January of 2012. And if you are interested in hearing more, here is a link to the YouTube video of his top tracks.
So, why is it that this man of so many talents can also write a mystery?
There are those who don't consider The Gun Seller as much a mystery as a parody of a mystery. Myself, I thought of it as P.G. Wodehouse meets Robert Ludlum. Which is not a surprise since Laurie admits the powerful influence that Wodehouse has had on his writing. The plot is as complex as any that Ludlum dreamed up. Christopher Buckley, in the New York Times describes it as:
the most engaging literary melange des genres since George Macdonald Fraser's Flashman arrived on the scene. Or as they'd say in a Hollywood pitch meeting: ''Bertie Wooster meets James Bond.''Thomas Lang lives in London, picking up the occasional job as bodyguard or mercenary that uses the skills he acquired as a member of the Scots Guard. The Gun Seller opens with Lang considering how to properly break someone's arm.
Imagine that you have to break someone’s arm.He carries on for more paragraphs, debating the right answer and exceptions to the right answer. His description of the arm to arm combat he is engaged in includes gems like this one:
Right or left, doesn’t matter. The point is that you have to break it, because if you don’t ... well, that doesn’t matter either. Let’s just say bad things will happen if you don’t.
Now, my question goes like this: do you break the arm quickly - snap, whoops, sorry, here let me help you with that improvised splint - or do you drag the whole business out for a good eight minutes, every now and then increasing the pressure in the tiniest of increments, until the pain becomes pink and green and hot and cold and altogether howlingly unbearable?
I backed away from him, dancing on my toes like a very old St Bernard, and looked around for a weapon.The novel continues in this conversational tone, narrator to reader, as Thomas is drawn into a conspiracy involving terrorists, the CIA, the Ministry of Defense and international arms dealers. And just like a Ludlum novel, it is difficult to describe the plot without giving away too much of the action. Locations include of course, the Swiss Alps, London, Amsterdam and Casablanca. The bad guys are very, very bad and beautiful women are either very good or very bad or both.
Mostly, the book is simply fun. And according to the Buckley review,
There's enough neat gadgetry here to satisfy the hard-core techno-weenie, while at the same time amusing the techno-wimp. Mr. Laurie has done his homework, but knows just where to stop, as in this description of the British missile that shoots down helicopters: ''The system is made up of two handy units, the first being a sealed launch canister, containing the missile, and the second being the semi-automatic-line-of-sight-guidance system, which has a lot of very small, very clever, very expensive electronic stuff inside it.''Written in 1996 some of the politics do appear a little dated today, but also strangely prescient. While today's terrorist are no longer European as they were in the past, the international gun trade and its ties to the military of the US and the UK are today far more believable to most British and American citizens than they were 17 years ago. There was talk of a Hollywood adaption, and a sequel that was unfortunately never written. That makes me sad.
Readers & Book Lovers Series Schedule
|DAY||TIME (EST/EDT)||Series Name||Editor(s)|
|SUN||6:00 PM||Young Reader's Pavilion||The Book Bear|
|Sun||9:30 PM||SciFi/Fantasy Book Club||quarkstomper|
|Bi-Monthly Sun||Midnight||Reading Ramblings||don mikulecky|
|MON||8:00 PM||Monday Murder Mystery||Susan from 29|
|Mon||11:00 PM||My Favorite Books/Authors||edrie, MichiganChet|
|TUES||2:00 PM||Indigo Kalliope||bigjacbigjacbigjac|
|alternate Tuesdays||8:00 AM||LGBT Literature||Texdude50, Dave in Northridge|
|Tue||8:00 PM||Contemporary Fiction Views||Brecht, bookgirl|
|Wed||8:00 PM||Bookflurries Bookchat||cfk|
|THU||8:00 PM||Write On!||SensibleShoes|
|Thu (first each month)||11:00 AM||Monthly Bookpost||AdmiralNaismith|
|Thu (third each month)||11:00 PM||Audiobooks Club||SoCaliana|
|FRI||8:00 AM||Books That Changed My Life||Diana in NoVa|
|SAT (fourth each month)||11:00 AM||Windy City Bookworm||Chitown Kev|
|Sat||4:00 PM||Daily Kos Political Book Club||Freshly Squeezed Cynic|
|Sat||9:00 PM||Books So Bad They're Good||Ellid|