January 16, 2009


Rumpole of the Bailey creator John Mortimer dies (Alison Flood, 1/16/09, The Guardian)

The novelist, playwright and former barrister, who was born in London in 1923, created the Rumpole series, detailing the adventures of ageing London barrister Horace Rumpole, for television, later spinning it off into a series of books and radio programmes. Up until his death he was producing more than one book a year. "He would announce to me on the phone that he thought he ought to 'do a Rumpole' on Asbos or Weapons of Mass Destruction, or some similar topic about which he felt particularly strongly. Rumpole and John became increasingly fused," said Lacey.

Mortimer worked with the Crown Film Unit during the war, writing a number of novels before turning to the theatre. He also wrote a range of film scripts, and plays for television and radio including A Voyage Around My Father, an adaptation of Brideshead Revisited, and the Rumpole dramas, which won him the British Academy Writer of the Year Award.

He also wrote a trilogy of political novels about the rise of an ambitious Tory MP - Paradise Postponed, Titmuss Regained and The Sound of Trumpets, and four volumes of autobiography, receiving a knighthood for his services to the arts in 1998.

-OBIT: Sir John Mortimer: Writer by choice, lawyer at his father's behest (Daily Telegraph, 16 Jan 2009)

Sir John Mortimer, who has died aged 85, became a lawyer at his father's behest and a writer by his own preference; through rare gifts of energy, confidence, intelligence and wit he succeeded brilliantly in both careers.

His experiences at the Bar afforded the material for the creation of Horace Rumpole, the shambling but stylish barrister whose quirky devotion to apparently hopeless causes made him one of the most compelling characters on British television.

In the early 1970s Mortimer was appearing for some football hooligans when James Burge, with whom he was sharing the defence, told him: “I’m really an anarchist at heart, but I don’t think even my darling old Prince Peter Kropotkin would have approved of this lot.” “And there,” Mortimer realised, “I had Rumpole.”

-OBIT: Sir John Mortimer, creator of Rumpole of the Bailey, dies age 85 (Anita Singh, 16 Jan 2009, Daily Telegraph)
-OBIT: Rumpole creator Sir John Mortimer dies, aged 85 (Daily Mail, 16th January 2009)

Asked last year if he was still drinking as much as ever, he replied: 'One of my weaknesses is that I like to start the day with a glass of champagne before breakfast.'

'I drink brandy and soda, and I don't eat a meal without drinking white wine. I've smoked all my life and, although I'd given up a bit, I now force myself to smoke because of the ban,' he said last July.

And despite his physical frailty, he was also determined to keep writing and had even hinted another Rumpole book might in the pipeline months before he died.

To give up, he said, would have been 'awful'. 'You will die on a golf course or end up sat with nothing to do in an old people’s home. Ugh.'

-OBIT: Rumpole creator Mortimer dies at 85 (Sam Marsden and Chris Moncrieff, 16 January 2009, Independent)
-OBIT: Case closed for Rumpole creator John Mortimer (The Australian, January 17, 2009)

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Posted by Orrin Judd at January 16, 2009 8:43 AM
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