Jonathan Fryer (1969, Oriental Studies) is a British writer, lecturer and broadcaster specialising in biography, memoir, modern history and international affairs.
He began his journalistic career at age 18 by going off to the Vietnam War for the Manchester Evening News, before coming to Teddy Hall to read Oriental Studies (Chinese with Japanese), as recounted in his childhood memoir, Eccles Cakes (2016).
Jonathan joined Reuters news agency after university and was sent to Brussels to cover what is now the European Union, but resigned after a year when he was given his first book contract, to write a history of The Great Wall of China (1975). He stayed on in Brussels for 7 years and still maintains a keen interest in EU affairs, sitting on the governing council of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE). Back in England, he worked at Bush House in London for 20 years, writing current affairs scripts and making radio packages for BBC World Service radio. He was part of the BBC’s 24-hour rolling news coverage of the 1991 Gulf War and since then has especially focused on the geopolitics of the Middle East. A regular contributor to Radio 4’s ‘From Our Own Correspondent’, he is also an area analyst for a number of Arab and Persian TV stations.
Among his 15 non-fiction books are the historical studies Fuelling Kuwait’s Development (2nd edition 2012) and Kurdistan: A Nation Emerges (2010).
Since 1993 he has taught a course in Humanities at London University’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). Jonathan was on the Executive of English PEN for many years and served as a judge for the PEN Non-fiction prize. He has been appointed a judge for the new Ruth Rendell Prize to celebrate contributions to literacy. Since 2014, he has been a Non-Executive Director of the Authors Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS).