|Born||John Clifford Mortimer|
21 April 1923
Hampstead, London, England
|Died||16 January 2009 85) (aged|
Turville Heath, Buckinghamshire, England
|Occupation||Barrister, dramatist, screenwriter and author|
|Education|| Dragon School |
|Alma mater||Brasenose College, Oxford|
|Notable works|| A Voyage Round My Father |
Rumpole of the Bailey
|Notable awards|| Queen's Counsel (1966)|
|Spouse|| Penelope Fletcher (1949–1971; divorced)|
Penelope Gollop (1972–2009; his death)
Sally Silverman, Jeremy Mortimer
Emily Mortimer, Rosie Mortimer
with Wendy Craig :
Sir John Clifford Mortimer CBE QC FRSL (21 April 1923 – 16 January 2009)  was a British barrister, dramatist, screenwriter and author. He is best known for novels about a barrister named Horace Rumpole.
Mortimer was born in Hampstead, London, the only child of Kathleen May (née Smith) and (Herbert) Clifford Mortimer (1884–1961), a divorce and probate barrister    who became blind in 1936 when he hit his head on the door frame of a London taxi  but still pursued his career. Clifford's loss of sight was not acknowledged openly by the family. 
John Mortimer was educated at the Dragon School, Oxford, and Harrow School, where he joined the Communist Party,  forming a one-member cell.  He first intended to be an actor (his lead role in the Dragon's 1937 production of Richard II gained glowing reviews in The Draconian)  and then a writer, but his father persuaded him against it, advising: "My dear boy, have some consideration for your unfortunate wife... [the law] gets you out of the house." 
At 17, Mortimer went to Brasenose College, Oxford, where he read law, though he was actually based at Christ Church because the Brasenose buildings had been requisitioned for the war effort.  In July 1942, at the end of his second year, he was sent down from Oxford by John Lowe, Dean of Christ Church, after romantic letters to a Bradfield College sixth-former, Quentin Edwards, later a QC, were discovered by the young man's housemaster.   However, Mortimer was still allowed to take his Bachelor of Arts degree in law in October 1943. His close friend Michael Hamburger believed he had been very harshly treated. 
With weak eyes and doubtful lungs, Mortimer was classified as medically unfit for military service in World War II.  He worked for the Crown Film Unit under Laurie Lee, writing scripts for propaganda documentaries.
I lived in London and went on journeys in blacked-out trains to factories and coal-mines and military and air force installations. For the first and, in fact, the only time in my life I was, thanks to Laurie Lee, earning my living entirely as a writer. If I have knocked the documentary ideal, I would not wish to sound ungrateful to the Crown Film Unit. I was given great and welcome opportunities to write dialogue, construct scenes and try and turn ideas into some kind of visual drama. 
He based his first novel, Charade, on his experiences with the Crown Film Unit.[ citation needed ]
Mortimer made his radio debut as a dramatist in 1955, adapting his own novel Like Men Betrayed for the BBC Light Programme. His debut as an original playwright came with The Dock Brief starring Michael Hordern as a hapless barrister, first broadcast in 1957 on BBC Radio's Third Programme, and later televised with the same cast. It later appeared in a double bill with What Shall We Tell Caroline? at the Lyric Hammersmith in April 1958, before transferring to the Garrick Theatre. The Dock Brief was revived by Christopher Morahan in 2007 for a touring double bill with Legal Fictions.  It won the Prix Italia in 1957, and its success on radio, stage, and television led Mortimer to prefer writing for performance rather than writing novels. 
Mortimer's play A Voyage Round My Father , first broadcast on radio in 1963, is autobiographical, recounting his experiences as a young barrister and his relations with his blind father. It was televised by BBC Television in 1969 with Mark Dignam in the title role. In a lengthier version, the play became a stage success – first at Greenwich Theatre with Dignam, then in 1971 at the Theatre Royal Haymarket with Alec Guinness). In 1981 it was remade by Thames Television with Laurence Olivier as the father and Alan Bates as young Mortimer. In 1965, he and his wife wrote the screenplay for the Otto Preminger film Bunny Lake is Missing , which also starred Olivier.[ citation needed ]
Mortimer was called to the Bar (Inner Temple) in 1948, at the age of 25. His early career covered testamentary and divorce work, but on taking silk in 1966, he began to undertake criminal law.  His highest profile came from cases relating to claims of obscenity, which, according to Mortimer, were "alleged to be testing the frontiers of tolerance." 
He has sometimes been cited wrongly as one of the Lady Chatterley's Lover obscenity trial defence team.  He did, however, successfully defend publishers John Calder and Marion Boyars in a 1968 appeal against a conviction for publishing Hubert Selby Jr.'s Last Exit to Brooklyn .  He assumed a similar role three years later, this time unsuccessfully, for Richard Handyside, the English publisher of The Little Red Schoolbook . 
In 1971, Mortimer managed to defend the editors of the satirical paper Oz against a charge of "conspiracy to corrupt and debauch the morals of the young of the Realm", which might have carried a sentence of 12 years' hard labour.   In 1976, he defended Gay News editor Denis Lemon ( Whitehouse v. Lemon ) against charges of blasphemous libel for publishing James Kirkup's The Love That Dares to Speak Its Name ; Lemon was given a suspended prison sentence, which was overturned on appeal.  He successfully defended Virgin Records in a 1977 obscenity hearing for using the word bollocks in the title of the Sex Pistols album Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols and the manager of the Nottingham branch of Virgin record shop chain for displaying and selling the record. Mortimer retired from the bar in 1984. 
Mortimer is best remembered for creating a barrister named Horace Rumpole, inspired by his father Clifford,  whose speciality is defending those accused in London's Old Bailey. Mortimer created Rumpole for a BBC Play For Today in 1975. Although not Mortimer's first choice of actor – in an interview on the DVD set, he said he wanted Alistair Sim "but he turned out to be dead so he couldn't take it on" – Australian-born Leo McKern played Rumpole with gusto and proved popular. The idea was developed into a series, Rumpole of the Bailey , for Thames Television, in which McKern kept the lead role. Mortimer also wrote a series of Rumpole books. In September–October 2003, BBC Radio 4 broadcast four new 45-minute Rumpole plays by Mortimer with Timothy West in the title role. Mortimer also dramatised many real-life cases of the barrister Edward Marshall-Hall in a radio series with former Doctor Who star Tom Baker as protagonist.
In 1975 and 1976, Mortimer adapted eight of Graham Greene’s short stories for episodes of Shades of Greene presented by Thames Television.  Mortimer was credited with writing the script for Granada Television's 1981 serialization of Brideshead Revisited , based on the novel by Evelyn Waugh. However, Graham Lord's unofficial biography, John Mortimer: The Devil's Advocate,  revealed in 2005 that none of Mortimer's submitted scripts had in fact been used and the screenplay was actually written by the series' producer and director. Mortimer adapted John Fowles's The Ebony Tower starring Laurence Olivier for Granada in 1984. In 1986, his adaptation of his own novel Paradise Postponed was televised. He wrote the script, based on the autobiography of Franco Zeffirelli, for the 1999 film Tea with Mussolini , directed by Zeffirelli and starring Joan Plowright, Cher, Judi Dench, Maggie Smith and Lily Tomlin. From 2004, Mortimer worked as a consultant for the politico-legal US "dramedy" television show Boston Legal . 
Mortimer developed his career as a dramatist by rising early to write before attending court. His work in total includes over 50 books, plays and scripts.  Besides 13 episodes of Rumpole dramatized for radio in 1980, several others of his works were broadcast on the BBC, including the true crime series John Mortimer Presents: The Trials Of Marshall Hall and Sensational British Trials. 
Penelope Fletcher, better known as Penelope Mortimer, met the barrister and writer John Mortimer while still married to Charles Dimont and pregnant with their last child. Fletcher married Mortimer on 27 August 1949, the same day her divorce from Dimont became absolute. Together they went on to have a son, Jeremy Mortimer, and a daughter, Sally Silverman.  The unstable marriage inspired work by both writers, of which Penelope's novel, The Pumpkin Eater (1962), later made into a film of the same name, is best known. The couple divorced in 1971 and he married Penelope Gollop in 1972. They had two daughters, Emily Mortimer (1971), and Rosie Mortimer (1984). He and his second wife lived in the Buckinghamshire village of Turville Heath. The split with his first wife had been bitter, but they were on friendly terms by the time of her death in 1999. 
In September 2004, the Sunday Telegraph journalist Tim Walker revealed that Mortimer had fathered another son, Ross Bentley, who was conceived during a secret affair Mortimer had with the English actress Wendy Craig more than 40 years earlier. He was born in November 1961.   Craig and Mortimer had met when the actress had been cast playing a pregnant woman in Mortimer's first full-length West End play, The Wrong Side of the Park. Ross Bentley was raised by Craig and her husband, Jack Bentley, the show business writer and musician.
In Mortimer's memoirs, Clinging to the Wreckage, he wrote of "enjoying my mid-thirties and all the pleasures which come to a young writer."
Awarded a CBE in 1986, he was made a knight bachelor in the 1998 Birthday Honours. 
Mortimer suffered a stroke in October 2008 and died on 16 January 2009, aged 85. 
John Mortimer was a member of English PEN. He was patron of the Burma Campaign UK, the London-based group campaigning for human rights and democracy in Burma and president of the Royal Court Theatre, having been the chairman of its board in 1990–2000.
Schoolkids Oz was No. 28 of Oz magazine. The issue was, on a special occasion, edited by 5th- and 6th-form children. It was the subject of a high-profile obscenity case in the United Kingdom from June 1971 to 5 August 1971, the longest trial under the 1959 Obscene Publications Act.
Penge is a suburb of South East London, England, now in the London Borough of Bromley, 3.5 miles (5.6 km) west of Bromley, 3.7 miles (6.0 km) north east of Croydon and 7.1 miles (11.4 km) south east of Charing Cross.
Donald Serrell Thomas was a British crime writer. His work primarily included Victorian-era historical, crime and detective fiction, as well as books on factual crime and criminals, in particular several academic books on the history of crime in London. He wrote a number of biographies, two volumes of poetry, and also edited volumes of poetry by John Dryden and the Pre-Raphaelites.
The Central Criminal Court of England and Wales, commonly referred to as the Old Bailey after the street on which it stands, is a criminal court building in central London, one of several that house the Crown Court of England and Wales. The street outside follows the route of the ancient wall around the City of London, which was part of the fortification's bailey, hence the metonymic name.
Rumpole of the Bailey is a British television series created and written by the British writer and barrister John Mortimer. It starred Leo McKern as Horace Rumpole, a middle-aged London barrister who defended a broad variety of clients, often underdogs. The TV series led to the stories being presented in other media, including books and radio.
Sir Antony James Beevor, is a British military historian. He has published several popular historical works on the Second World War and the Spanish Civil War.
William Maurice Denham OBE was an English character actor who appeared in over 100 films and television programmes in his long career.
Sir Edward Marshall Hall, was an English barrister who had a formidable reputation as an orator. He successfully defended many people accused of notorious murders and became known as "The Great Defender".
Caroline Mortimer was a British actress.
Penelope Ruth Mortimer was a Welsh-born English journalist, biographer, and novelist. Her semi-autobiographical novel The Pumpkin Eater (1962) was made into a 1964 film of the same name. It starred Anne Bancroft, who was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance as Jo Armitage, a character based on Mortimer herself.
Irene Shubik was a British television producer and story editor, known for her contribution to the development of the single play in British television drama. Beginning her career in television at ABC Weekend TV, she worked on Armchair Theatre as a story editor, where she devised the science fiction anthology series Out of this World.
The Dock Brief is a 1962 black-and-white British legal satire directed by James Hill, starring Peter Sellers and Richard Attenborough, and based on the play of the same name written by John Mortimer.
Jeremy Mortimer is a British director and producer of radio dramas for BBC Radio. He won the 2012 Bronze Sony Radio Academy Award for Best Drama with A Tale of Two Cities.
Garrow's Law is a British period legal drama about the 18th-century lawyer William Garrow. The series debuted on 1 November 2009 on BBC One and BBC HD. A second series was announced on 7 July 2010 and was broadcast from 14 November 2010. A third series consisting of four episodes was commissioned and was aired from 13 November 2011. Garrow's Law was cancelled after three series in February 2012.
Rumpole and the Primrose Path is an anthology of light hearted legal comedy short stories by writer John Mortimer. It is the 12th in a series based in part on his own past experiences as a barrister but also notable for their use of themes topical at the time each was published. It begins with the aged barrister Horace Rumpole marooned in a nursing home where he feels some shady business is going on. Several of the stories in the collection were adapted as part of a series of 45 minute radio plays starring real life husband and wife duo Timothy West and Prunella Scales. The short stories included in the work are:
Charles George James Burge, was an English criminal law barrister, remembered for his defence of Stephen Ward in the Profumo affair in 1963. He is also remembered as John Mortimer's original inspiration for the fictional barrister Horace Rumpole in Rumpole of the Bailey.
Rumpole of the Bailey is a radio series created and written by the British writer and barrister John Mortimer based on the television series Rumpole of the Bailey. Five different actors portrayed Horace Rumpole in these episodes: Leo McKern, Maurice Denham, Timothy West, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Julian Rhind-Tutt.
Rumpole of the Bailey is a series of books created and written by the British writer and barrister John Mortimer based on the television series Rumpole of the Bailey.
His Honour Quentin Tytler Edwards QC was a British barrister and circuit judge.