HUGH LAURIE Biography - Other artists & entretainers


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Hugh was born June 11, 1959 in Oxford, England, the youngest of four children of Dr. W.G.R.M. and Patricia Laurie. He attended the Dragon School, a well-known prep school in Oxford, and went on to Eton College, perhaps England’s best-known public school.


Hugh’s father had been an outstanding oarsman at Cambridge, Henley Royal Regatta, and in the Olympic Games, where he won a gold medal in 1948. At Eton, Hugh also became an oarsman. He rowed for the school, becoming junior national champion in coxed pairs (with J.S. Palmer) and finishing fourth in the Junior World Championships in 1977.


Hugh went up to Cambridge University in 1978 to read archaeology and anthropology - and to row. He rowed for his college (Selwyn) and also for the University in one of its premier sporting events, the annual Boat Race against Oxford University.


This race, going back to the mid-1800s, is a gruelling contest between two crews of eight rowed on the tidal Thames each spring. To be a rowing Blue, as those who participate in the race are called, is to have earned one of the most highly-prized sporting honors Oxbridge has to offer. In his first year at Cambridge, Hugh was rowing in the “A” trials crew for Boat Race selection, and was tipped to be picked for the six-seat, the “strong man” position. Unfortunately, he fell ill with glandular fever and had to quit rowing in early January 1979. He did make the crew for the 1980 Boat Race, as did his former Etonian crewmate J.S. Palmer. The race they rowed in was one of the most exciting in years, with Cambridge almost coming from behind (an unheard-of occurrence for any crew in this race) and eventually losing to Oxford by less than ten feet, the closest finish of the century. Hugh has mentioned in interviews that the loss still rankles.


A few months later Laurie and Palmer entered for the Silver Goblets (coxless pairs) at Henley Royal Regatta; they were the only British crew that year to reach a final in an elite event. They finished second to a heavily-favored American pair.