British writer John Mortimer, creator of the criminal lawyer Rumpole of the Bailey, has died aged 85, Mortimer's literary representatives, United Agents, announced today.
Mortimer was both a lawyer and a prolific writer. During the war he worked for the Crown Film Unit and published a number of novels before turning to the theatre. He created screen and stage plays, including the adapted autobiographical, 'A Voyage Round my Father', His film work included 'Tea with Mussolini' starring Maggie Smith and Judi Dench, based on Zeffirelli’s Memoirs. His well known TV dramas and mini-series included Paradise Postponed (1986), a satirical vision of Thatcher's Britain. But his most famous creation was Horace Rumpole, the wine-loving barrister who appeared in a TV series and a series of novels and stories.
As a barrister, he was noted for his defence of freedom of expression and work in literary related cases, notably that involving Hubert Selby's novel Last Exit to Brooklyn and the magazine Oz. He won a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2005 British Book Awards.
Of the many and varied obituaries, this at The Australian, is one of the most intimate. And funny.