James Hugh Calum Laurie was born on 11 June 1959 in Blackbird Leys, Oxfordshire, the youngest of four children of Patricia (née Laidlaw) and William George Ranald Mundell "Ran" Laurie, who was a physician and winner of an Olympic gold medal in the coxless pairs (rowing) at the 1948 London Games. He has an older brother, Charles Alexander Lyon Mundell Laurie, and two older sisters, Susan and Janet. He had a strained relationship with his mother. He notes that she was "Presbyterian by character, by mood" and that he was "a frustration to her. . . she didn't like me". She died from motor neurone disease at the age of 73, in 1989, when Laurie was 30. According to Laurie, she endured the disease for two years and suffered "painful, plodding paralysis" while being cared for by Laurie's father, whom he called "the sweetest man in the whole world".
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