Given his remarkable fecundity across the Arts, it is just as well that we will be focusing on one particular region of his creative Empire. As a writer he possesses an instantly recognisable voice – one which is by turns, and often at the same time, referential, satiric, learned, neologising, self-deprecating, exuberant, irreverent, outrageous and frank. His prose is almost always humorous and at its heart lies… well… heart. Fry, the unceasing humanist – the carer, giver, hoper, dreamer, general wisher-well to all humanity – rarely fails to shine through. Self-confessed influences include Oscar Wilde, P.G. Wodehouse, Arthur Conan Doyle, G.K. Chesterton, Charles Dickens, C.S. Lewis – all popular writers in their own lifetime, as indeed Fry has proven to be in his own.
Making History (1996) is perhaps the least polished of his four novels, but nevertheless explores fascinating speculative terrain. It presents a version of modern life as it might have been had Germany, led by a different tyrant, been victorious in the 2nd World War. The Stars' Tennis Balls (2000) is a psychological thriller. The title is taken from John Webster's The Duchess of Malfi: the full sentence goes "We are merely the stars' tennis balls, struck and banded which way please them." As Fry explains, the story "is a straight steal, virtually identical in all but period and style to Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo".
His collection of occasional writings – Paperweight – conveys a powerful sense of his range as a writer, as well as the breadth and precocity of his thinking. Fry’s restless intellect has compelled him to write such instructive texts as The Ode Less Travelled: Unlocking the Poet Within, a frankly excellent guide – by virtue of its clarity, logical sequencing and sustained entertainment value – to the understanding and writing of metrical poetry. Other such edifying tomes include Rescuing the Spectacled Bear: A Peruvian Journey (2002), Stephen Fry's Incomplete History of Classical Music (2004) and Stephen Fry in America (2008).
Fry continues to be prolific, and even the more frivolous scraps of writing in the form of his ‘tweets’ command a formidable following. The second installment of his memoirs, The Fry Chronicles, was published in September 2010.