Clifford Nelson Fyle was born and raised in Freetown, British Sierra Leone to Creole parents. Fyle attended the Methodist Boys High School in Freetown, and the Fourah Bay College, which was then an accredited college of the University of Durham, England, Fyle obtained Bachelor's degree in Languages and Mathematics at age of 20. He started his successful career as an educationist after completing a Diploma in Education. Fyle started his working life as a secondary schoolteacher at the Methodist Boys High School in Freetown.
Fyle was the first Publicity Secretary of the United Progressive Party (UPP) and the third in command of the same party, after Cyril Rogers-Wright and John Nelson-Williams, before it merged with the Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP) forming the Government of National Unity that would lead Sierra Leone to national independence from the British Empire in 1961.
Fyle gave up politics to concentrate his efforts on education, later becoming a story writer. He was the author of the popular Bangurah-Cole stories which were published in the Sierra Leone Daily Mail in the mid-1950s.
In 1958, at the University of Durham, Fyle achieved a Master of Arts degree in Education; two years later, in 1960, he obtained a Bachelor's degree in English with honours. He then left the University of Durham and returned home to Sierra Leone, where, on winning a national competition to write the words of the Sierra Leone National Anthem with his High We Exalt Thee? verses, he became known as the author of the Sierra Leone National Anthem.
Clifford Nelson Fyle was appointed as an Education Officer and School Inspector by the Ministry of Education in 1960. He was the youngest School Inspector on record at that time. Four years later, in 1964, Fyle became a foundation staff member of the newly opened Njala University College. Still determined to pursue a career in the field of Linguistics, Fyle completed postgraduate work in 1967, at the University of California at Los Angeles and at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana.
When he returned to Sierra Leone, he was appointed a lecturer at Njala University College and subsequently became Senior Lecturer at Fourah Bay College, where he attained his Professorship. He was promoted to the positions of head of the Department of English and Dean of the Faculty of Arts from 1977–1978.
In addition, Professor Fyle was offered the position of Secretaryship of the West African Linguistic Society, an organization whose international Congress Fyle had organized at the Cape Sierra Hotel in Freetown in 1974. He rejected the offer, opting instead for the language specialist position for UNESCO in January 1978. In 1988 he became World Coordinator of Mother Tongue Languages and Vice President of Research.
With Professor Eldred Jones, Fyle co-authored the Krio-English Dictionary, which The Times newspaper (London) referred to in 1980 as "blazing a worldwide trail" in modern linguistic study and lexicography.
After retiring in 1993, Fyle returned to Sierra Leone and started producing school books in the four major languages of Sierra Leone which the Government had sanctioned for use in education: Mende, Temne, Limba and Krio. He produced and published 24 school textbooks. In 1995, Fyle established Lekon Publishing Company in Sierra Leone. Five years later, in 2000, Lekon New Dimension Publishing in Yonkers, New York. This company was the one that published Sorie Conteh's The Diamonds. His last novels, These Old Colonial Hills and The Alpha were also published by the same company. Blood Brothers, an earlier novel of his, was nominated for the 1998 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.
Professor Clifford Nelson Fyle died on January 18, 2006, in Yonkers, New York.