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Summary Article: Mortimer, Sir John Clifford
From Chambers Biographical Dictionary


English dramatist, novelist and barrister

Born in London, he was called to the Bar in 1948, participated in several celebrated civil cases, and was a constant defender of liberal values. His series of novels featuring Horace Rumpole, an amiable, late-middle-aged defence barrister and frequenter of Pomeroy's bar, was adapted for television as Rumpole of the Bailey. He produced Rumpole books at irregular intervals, and his other novels, including Paradise Postponed (1985) and Summer's Lease (1988), were highly popular, evoking, often savagely, what Mortimer perceived as the moral decline of the English middle class. His many plays and adaptations for the stage included The Dock Brief (1958), The Wrong Side of the Park (1960), Two Stars for Comfort (1962) and an autobiographical play, A Voyage round My Father (broadcast 1963, staged 1970), which was filmed for television in 1982 with Laurence Olivier as the father. His last play was Legal Fictions (2008). He published four autobiographical volumes, entitled Clinging to the Wreckage (1982), Murderers and Other Friends (1994), The Summer of the Dormouse (2000) and Where There's a Will (2003). He made notable translations, especially of Georges Feydeau, and several TV screenplays including Brideshead Revisited (1981) from the novel by Evelyn Waugh, The Ebony Tower (1984) from the story by John Fowles, and his own Paradise Postponed (1986). He also wrote the screenplay for the film Tea with Mussolini (1999). His first wife was the novelist Penelope Mortimer (1918-99). He was made a CBE in 1986 and knighted in 1998.

© Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd 2011

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