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John Mortimer (John Clifford Mortimer) Biography

(1923– ), (John Clifford Mortimer), The Dock Brief, The Judge, A Voyage Round My Father

rumpole novels barrister oxford

British novelist, short-story writer, and playwright, born in Hampstead, London, educated at Harrow and Brasenose College, Oxford. He was a practising barrister for many years, and became a Queen's Counsel in 1966. He had published several novels before turning to the theatre, where he achieved popular recognition with plays such as The Dock Brief (1957), about the relationship between an inept lawyer and the client he is defending; The Judge (1967), about the private uncertainties of a professional dispenser of justice; A Voyage Round My Father (1970), a portrait of a blind barrister, based on his own father; and Heaven and Hell (1976), two short theological comedies. He has written film scripts, radio and television plays, including a six-part life of Shakespeare, and adaptations of his own Rumpole stories, about an eccentric barrister; he also wrote the screenplay for the adaptation of Waugh's Brideshead Revisited. His later, and more successful, novels include Paradise Postponed (1985), which charts the rise of Leslie Titmuss, an aspiring politician, from his deprived childhood to his eventual triumph as Conservative Member of Parliament; the novel was adapted for television. Summer's Lease (1988), a murder mystery set in the Chianti area of Tuscany (or ‘Chiantishire’, as it is nicknamed to reflect the minority population of British expatriates who have settled there), was also televised. Titmuss Regained (1990), a sequel to Paradise Postponed, in which the eponymous hero falls in love with the widow of a socialist Oxford don, was published with its companion volume as The Rapstone Chronicles (1991). His novel, Dunster (1992), centres on a libel action arising from allegations of war crimes. Apart from his novels, Mortimer has published numerous collections of short stories concerning the lovably irascible Horace Rumpole; these include Rumpole of the Bailey (1978), The Trials of Rumpole (1979), Rumpole for the Defence (1981), Rumpole and the Age of Miracles (1985), Rumpole and the Angel of Death (1995), and a collection of stories, The Best of Rumpole (1993). An autobiography, Clinging to the Wreckage (1982), was widely acclaimed for its honesty and its dry wit. Murderers and Other Friends (1994) is a memoir of Mortimer's legal career. He is the editor of The Oxford Book of Villains (1992). Mortimer was formerly married to Penelope Mortimer.

Penelope Mortimer Biography - (1918–1999), The Pumpkin Eater, Daddy's Gone a'Hunting, Cave of Ice [next]

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