ALL HALLOWS editor Barbara Roden passes along (as does Bill Crider
in his blog) the bad news this morning of John Mortimer's death.
Not particularly hardboiled (though I'd suggest BUNNY LAKE IS
MISSING is noirish), but a fine and prolfic talent in several media
(and a defender, as a barrister, of Britons' right to read as they please, specifically LADY CHATTERLY'S LOVER). TM
Rumpole's creator Mortimer dies
Dramatist and author Sir John Mortimer, who created enduring
character Rumpole of the Bailey, has died aged 85 after a long
Sir John, who began working as a barrister in the 1940s, went on to
become one of the most prolific writers of books and screenplays.
He first radio play was broadcast in 1957, and later wrote a TV
adaptation of Laurie Lee's Cider With Rosie.
Sir John, whose daughter is actress Emily Mortimer, was knighted in
His other well-known screen creations included obnoxious
Conservative MP Lesley Titmuss, portrayed by actor David Threlfall.
'Whiff of erudition'
Actor Leo McKern, who died in 2002, played Rumpole throughout his
time on screen, and was called "a wonderful actor" by Sir John.
The curmudgeonly barrister famously referred to his feared wife
Hilda as "she who must be obeyed".
Sir John adapted his own best-selling novel Summer's Lease for the
small screen, which featured Sir John Gielgud.
The writer also adapted ITV's lavish 11-part serial Brideshead
He combined his careers as barrister and dramatist for several
decades, and appeared for the defence in the infamous Lady
Chatterley's Lover obscenity trial in the 1960s.
His own life was reflected in his dramatic output, with A Voyage
Round My Father a portrayal of his blind father, who was also a
The drama appeared on radio, television and the London stage. HAVE
YOUR SAY When I was a teenager I first read Rumpole and can remember
laughing out loud at those stories. Paul, Newcastle
Melvyn Bragg, a friend and neighbour of Sir John, said the writer
had a "wonderful life, beginning and ending" in a cottage in the
Buckinghamshire village of Turville Heath, previously owned by his
"Life was encircled around that place in Turville and he was the
monarch of that," Lord Bragg said.
"We went to pay court to him and, to be honest, you went just to
laugh and to hear the latest gossip and the latest book he'd read
and 'what do you think of this and what do you think of that?'
"There was a whiff of erudition and scandal always around John and
it was completely seductive and he'll be badly, badly missed."
BBC radio drama head Alison Hindell said: "It's a great loss for the
huge circle of his admirers, fans and friends who will always carry
Rumpole, and the other wonderful works he wrote, in their hearts."
Tony Lacey, Sir John's editor at publishing house Viking said: "It's
hard to think he'd gone.
"At least we're lucky enough to have Rumpole to remind us just how
remarkable he was."
Story from BBC NEWS:
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