Monday, 19 January 2009

John Mortimer

Sir John Mortimer, the preternaturally prolific English author, died last Friday at 85. He created two unforgettable characters: one was the irascible barrister Horace Rumpole; the other was himself. He is pictured above with his actress daughter.

Rumpole, the craftily disheveled Old Bailey "hack," is probably best known through Leo McKern's portrayals on television. As a barrister, he is distinguished by his reverence for the common law, his contempt for judges and his refusal ever to prosecute or to enter a guilty plea.

Mortimer, a former barrister himself, was one of his country's best-known literary celebrities, first as a highly successful playwright -- part of the so-called new wave with his friends John Osborne and Harold Pinter -- then as writer of radio dramas, screenplays, novels, short stories and surprisingly first-rate journalism.

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