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Mortimer, John

titmuss rumpole post village

(British, 1923– )

Born in London and educated at Brasenose College, Oxford, Mortimer has combined his career as a barrister with his success as a novelist and playwright. Begin with some of the stories featuring his best-known creation, the irascible barrister Horace Rumpole. Eccentrically on the side of the angels, his shrewd triumphs in many curious cases are recorded in such collections as Rumpole of the Bailey (1978) and Rumpole and the Age of Miracles (1985). The early novel, Like Men Betrayed (1953), concerning a solicitor whose son misuses a client's money, is an atmospheric treatment of middle-class values colliding with criminal degeneracy in post-war London. Paradise Postponed (1985) takes stock of English village life in the post-war era in its comic treatment of events in Rapstone. Following the death of the Revd Simcox, his estate is left unexpectedly to the unscrupulous MP, Leslie Titmuss. The reasons are revealed as secrets of Titmuss's working-class background emerge. In the sequel, Titmuss Regained (1990), Titmuss, having risen to a cabinet post, buys up the mansion where his mother once worked and lets the village fall into the hands of the heritage industry. Politicians, conservationists, and property developers are targets of Mortimer's satire in the ensuing confusion of incompetence and greed.

David Lodge, Keith Waterhouse, Evelyn Waugh  DH

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