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Mortimer, John 1923- (Geoffrey Lincoln; Sir John Mortimer; John Mortimer, QC)

Mortimer, John 1923- (Geoffrey Lincoln; Sir John Mortimer; John Mortimer, QC)

PERSONAL

Full name, John Clifford Mortimer; born April 21, 1923, in Hampstead, London, England; son of Clifford (a barrister) and Kathleen May (maiden name, Smith) Mortimer; married Penelope Ruth Fletcher Dimont (a writer), 1949 (divorced, 1972 [some sources cite 1971]); married Penelope Gollop, 1972; children: (first marriage) Sally (a writer), Jeremy; (second marriage) Emily (an actress), Rosamond (Rosie); (with Wendy Craig, an actress) Ross Bentley; stepchildren: Madelon Lee, Caroline, Julia, Deborah. Education: Brasenose College, Oxford, B.A., 1947.

Career:

Writer. Called to the bar at Inner Temple, 1948; barrister-at-law, London, England, beginning 1948; appointed Queen's Counsel, 1966; National Theatre Board, member, 1968-88; Master of the Bench, Inner Temple, 1975. Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, and Oxfordshire Naturalists Trust, president, 1984—; Royal Court Theatre, chair, 1990—, and the Jerwood Theatres at the Royal Court, London, president; Howard League for Penal Reform, president, c. 1992—. Wartime service: Crown Film Units, scriptwriter during World War II.

Member:

League of Dramatists (chair), Royal Society of Literature (chair of council, 1989—), Writers Guild of Great Britain, Garrick Club, Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (associate member).

Awards, Honors:

Italia Prize, 1957, for "The Dock Brief," BBC Third Programme; Edgar Allan Poe Award nomination (with Penelope Mortimer), best motion picture, Mystery Writers of America, 1966, for Bunny Lake Is Missing; award for best original teleplay, Writers Guild of Great Britain, 1969, for "A Voyage round My Father," Plays of Today; Golden Globe Award nomination, best screenplay, and Screen Award nomination, best comedy adapted from another medium, Writers Guild of America, both 1970, for John and Mary; The Writers Award, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, 1980; Emmy Award nomination, outstanding writing in a limited series or special, 1982, for "Et in Arcadia Ego," an episode of Brideshead Revisited; Book of the Year Award, first prize, Yorkshire Post, 1982, for Clinging to the Wreckage: A Part of Life; decorated Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE), 1986, knighted by Queen Elizabeth II, 1998; Television Award nomination (with Jacqueline Davis), best drama series, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, 1989, for Rumpole of the Bailey; Edgar Allan Poe Award nominations, best television episode, 1989, for "Rumpole and the Bright Seraphim," 1990, for "Rumpole and the Bubble Reputation," and 1996, for "Rumpole and the Family Pride," all episodes of the series Rumpole of the Bailey; Television Award nomination (with Colin Rogers and Martyn Friend), best drama series or serial, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, 1990, for Summer's Lease; Special Lifetime Achievement Award, Banff Television Festival, Alberta, Canada, 1998; honorary degrees include D.Litt. degrees from Susquehanna University, 1985, University of St. Andrews, 1987, University of Nottingham, 1989, and Brunel University, and LL.D. degree, University of Exeter, 1986.

CREDITS

Television Appearances; Miniseries:

Himself, The Lives and Loves of a She Devil (also known as She Devil), BBC Two, 1986, Arts and Entertainment, 1987.

Television Appearances; Movies:

(In archive footage) Himself, Longford, HBO, 2006.

Television Appearances; Specials:

Himself, Benny Hill: The World's Favorite Clown, BBC, 1991.

The Alistair Cooke Salute, PBS, 1992.

(As Sir John Mortimer) Himself, The Secret Life of Brian, Channel 4 (England), 2007.

Television Appearances; Episodic:

(Sometimes billed as John Mortimer, QC) Question Time, BBC, 1979, 1982.

Himself, Friday Night, Saturday Morning, BBC Two, 1980.

Himself, "The Oldest Dance in the World," Omnibus, BBC, 1982.

Himself, "John Mortimer," The South Bank Show, Independent Television (England), 1986.

(Uncredited) Wine drinker, "Rumpole and the Blind Tasting," Rumpole of the Bailey, Thames Television, 1987, broadcast as part of Rumpole of the Bailey, Series Four, broadcast on Mystery!, PBS, c. 1988.

(Uncredited) Passenger on deck chair, "Rumpole at Sea," Rumpole of the Bailey, Thames Television, 1991, broadcast as part of Rumple of the Bailey, Part Six, broadcast on Mystery!, PBS, c. 1993.

(Uncredited) Judge at table, "Rumpole on Trial," Rumpole of the Bailey, Thames Television, 1995, broadcast as part of Rumpole of the Bailey, Series Seven, broadcast on Mystery!, PBS, c. 1995.

Going Places, PBS, 1996.

"Oscar Wilde: Wit's End," Biography (also known as A&E Biography: Oscar Wilde), Arts and Entertainment, 2001.

Himself, "Leslie Phillips," The Best of British, BBC, 2002.

Himself, Breakfast with Frost, BBC, 2002.

Himself, "John Mortimer: Owning Up at 80," Imagine, BBC, 2003.

(Sometimes billed as Sir John Mortimer) Himself, This Week, BBC, 2004, 2005, 2006.

(As Sir John Mortimer) Himself, Review (also known as Newsnight Review), BBC, 2005.

(As Sir John Mortimer) Himself, Sunday AM (also known as The Andrew Marr Show), BBC, 2008.

Stage Appearances:

Himself, Mortimer's Miscellany, King's Head Theatre, London, 2007.

Film Producer:

Lunch Hour, Bryanston Films/London Films, 1962.

RECORDINGS

DVDs:

Provided introductions for and appeared in Rumpole of the Bailey DVDs.

WRITINGS

Teleplays; Series:

Shades of Greene (teleplays based on the work of Graham Greene), Thames Television, c. 1975-76.

Will Shakespeare (also known as Life of Shakespeare and William Shakespeare, His Life & Times), Associated Television, 1978, published by Hodder & Stoughton, 1977, published as Will Shakespeare: The Untold Story, Delacorte, 1978.

Rumpole of the Bailey (also known as Rumpole of the Bailey, Series Two, Rumpole of the Bailey, Series Three, Rumpole of the Bailey, Series Four, Rumpole of the Bailey, Series Five, Rumpole of the Bailey, Series Six, Rumpole of the Bailey, Series VI, Rumpole of the Bailey, Series Seven, and Rumpole of the Bailey, Series VII), Thames Television, 1978-79, 1983, 1987-88, 1991, and 1992, also produced as a radio production and published in various volumes, broadcast as episodes of the series Mystery!, PBS, beginning c. 1980.

Brideshead Revisited (based on the novel by Evelyn Waugh), Granada Television, 1981, broadcast on Great Performances, PBS, 1982.

Paradise Postponed (related to his novel of the same name), Thames Television, 1986, broadcast on Masterpiece Theatre (also known as ExxonMobil Masterpiece Theatre and Mobil Masterpiece Theatre), PBS, beginning 1986, novel published by Viking, 1986, also published in Paradise Postponed: The Rapstone Chronicles, Penguin, 1993.

Under the Hammer, 1994, also published by Penguin, 1994.

Teleplays; Miniseries:

(With Colin Rogers and Martyn Friend) Summer's Lease (related to novel of the same name), BBC, 1989, broadcast on Masterpiece Theatre (also known as ExxonMobil Masterpiece Theatre and Mobil Masterpiece Theatre), PBS, 1991, novel published by Viking, 1988.

Titmuss Regained (adapted from his novel), Thames Television, also broadcast on broadcast on Masterpiece Theatre (also known as ExxonMobil Masterpiece Theatre and Mobil Masterpiece Theatre), PBS, 1992, novel published by Viking, 1990, and in Paradise Postponed: The Rapstone Chronicles, Penguin, 1993.

Don Quixote (based on the novel by Miguel de Cervantes), TNT, 2000.

Teleplays; Movies:

Cider with Rosie (based on memoirs by Laurie Lee), Carlton Television, 1998, broadcast on Masterpiece Theatre (also known as ExxonMobil Masterpiece Theatre, Masterpiece Theatre: Cider with Rosie, and Mobil Masterpiece Theatre), PBS, 1999.

Teleplays; Specials:

De Beklaagde, N.I.R. (Belgium), 1961.

Twenty-Four Hours in a Woman's Life (based on the novel by Stefan Zweig), 1961.

Ett svaart fall, [Sweden], 1962.

Hampton Court (adaptation of son et lumiere script), 1964.

Brighton Pavilion (adaptation of son et lumiere script), 1965.

Reci da sam lazov, Radiotelevizija Beograd (the former Yugoslavia), 1965.

Home (ballet), 1968.

Comedy Tonight, Independent Television (England), 1980.

Rumpole's Return, Thames Television, 1980, also broadcast as part of Rumpole of the Bailey, Series Seven, broadcast on Mystery!, PBS, c. 1990.

Edwin, 1982, produced as a stage production at Orange Tree Room, Richmond, England, 1996, published in Edwin and Other Plays, Penguin, 1984.

Die Fledermaus (related to his stage production; based on the opera by Johann Strauss and the libretto by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halevy), BBC, 1989, published by Viking, 1989.

"In Love and War" (also known as "Love and War in the Apennines"; based on the novel Love and War in the Apennines by Eric Newby), Hallmark Hall of Fame, CBS, 2001.

Mortimer's various Rumpole of the Bailey teleplays have been published in various volumes.

Teleplays; Plays:

Call Me a Liar, BBC, 1958, produced as a stage production in London, 1968, published in Lunch Hour and Other Plays, Methuen, 1960, and in The Television Playwright: Ten Plays for BBC Television, edited by Michael Barry, Hill & Wang, 1960.

"Back to Back—‘The Dock Brief’ and ‘What Shall We Tell Caroline?,’" Play of the Week, Associated-Rediffusion, 1959, both published in Three Plays, Elek, 1958, Grove Press, 1962, and in Five Plays, Methuen, 1970, The Dock Brief also published in Plays, 1989, and has been produced as a radio production and a film, and produced as part of John Mortimer's Casebook, produced at the Young Vic Theatre, London, 1982.

David and Broccoli, BBC, 1960, published in Lunch Hour and Other Plays, Methuen, 1960.

Sie koennen's mir glauben (translation of Mortimer's work), Suedwestfunk (SWF), Germany, 1960.

"The Encyclopaedist," They Met in a City, BBC, 1961.

Ne eljek, ha nem igaz! (translation of Mortimer's work), Magyar Televizio Mueveloedesi Foeszerkesztoeseg (MTV, Hungary), 1962.

Collect Your Hand Baggage, 1963, produced as a stage production, published by Samuel French, 1960, published in Lunch Hour and Other Plays, Methuen, 1960, and in Five Plays, Methuen, 1970.

Der Fluggast (translation of Mortimer's work), Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen (ZDF, Germany [now Germany]), 1964.

Wat vertellen we Caroline? (translation of Mortimer's What Shall We Tell Caroline?), Belgische Radio en Televisie (BRT, Belgium), 1964.

"The Head Waiter," The Wednesday Play, BBC, 1966.

"The Choice of Kings," ITV Play of the Week (also known as Play of the Week), Independent Television (England), 1966, published in Playbill Three, edited by Alan Durbrand, Hutchinson, 1969.

Eerlijk en ongelogen (translation of Mortimer's Call Me a Liar), Belgische Radio en Televisie (BRT, Belgium), 1967.

"The Exploding Azalea," Armchair Theatre, Associated British Picture Corporation, 1967.

Hughie, 1967.

The Other Side, BBC, 1967.

"Infidelity Took Place," The Wednesday Play, BBC, 1968.

"Desmond" (short play), A Touch of Venus, BBC Two, 1968, published in The Best Short Plays 1971, edited by Stanley Richards, Chilton, 1971.

"A Voyage round My Father," Plays of Today (also known as Plays of Today: A Voyage around My Father), BBC, 1969, also produced as a stage production, as a radio production, and in other television productions, published by Methuen, 1971, by Samuel French, 1971, and in Plays, 1989.

Only Three Can Play, Independent Broadcasting Authority, 1970.

Alcock and Gander, Thames Television, 1972.

Swiss Cottage, BBC, 1972.

"Kings Cross," Thirty-Minute Theatre, BBC Two, 1972.

"Kings Cross Lunch Time," Thirty-Minute Theatre, BBC Two, 1972.

"Knightsbridge," Thirty-Minute Theatre, BBC Two, 1972, published by Samuel French, 1973.

"Bermondsey," Thirty-Minute Theatre, BBC Two, 1972, published in Edwin and Other Plays, Penguin, 1984.

"Mill Hill," Thirty-Minute Theatre, BBC Two, 1972, produced as part of the stage production Come As You Are, New Theatre, London, 1970, published as Come As You Are: Four Short Plays, Methuen, 1971, in Edwin and Other Plays, Penguin, 1984, and in Plays, 1989.

"Rumpole of the Bailey" (also known as "Rumpole and the Confession of Guilt"), Play for Today, BBC, 1975.

"Unity" (based on a book by David Pryce-Jones), BBC2 Playhouse, BBC Two, 1978.

A Voyage round My Father (adapted from his radio play), Thames Television, 1982, also produced as a stage production, as a radio production, and as other television productions, and published by Methuen, 1971, by Samuel French, 1971, and in Plays, 1989.

"The Ebony Tower" (based on a story by John Fowles), Laurence Olivier Presents, Granada Television, 1984, broadcast on Great Performances, PBS, c. 1987.

Teleplays; Episodic:

(Story) "I Spy," Alfred Hitchcock Presents, NBC, 1961, also produced on stage and as a radio production, published in Three Plays, Elek, 1958, Grove Press, 1962, and in Five Plays, Methuen, 1970.

(With others) BBC-3 (also known as BBC 3), BBC, episodes 1965-66.

(With others) Beryl Reid Says Good Evening, BBC, episodes in 1968.

"The Waiting Room," Smith and Jones in Small Doses, BBC Two, 1989.

Teleplays; Pilots:

Married Alive, NBC, 1970.

Writings for the Stage:

The Dock Brief (based on his radio play) [and] What Shall We Tell Caroline? (double-bill), produced at Lyric Opera House, Hammersmith, England, then Garrick Theatre, London, 1958, and Midway Theatre, New York City, 1961, both produced as a television production, both have been published in Three Plays, Elek, 1958, Grove Press, 1962, and in Five Plays, Methuen, 1970, The Dock Brief also published in Plays, 1989, and has been produced as a radio production and a film, and produced as part of John Mortimer's Casebook, produced at the Young Vic Theatre, London, 1982.

I Spy, produced at Salisbury Playhouse, Salisbury, England, and produced in Palm Beach, FL, both 1959, also produced as a radio and television production, published in Three Plays, Elek, 1958, Grove Press, 1962, and in Five Plays, Methuen, 1970.

The Wrong Side of the Park, produced at Cambridge Theatre, London, and St. Martin's Theatre, London, both 1960, published by Heinemann, 1960.

Lunch Hour, produced at Salisbury Playhouse, 1960, then Criterion Theatre, London, 1961, also produced elsewhere, including the Old Sorting Office Community Arts Centre, London, 2007, produced as a film and as a radio production, published by Samuel French, 1961, and in Lunch Hour and Other Plays, Methuen, 1960, in Five Plays, Methuen, 1970, and in Plays, 1989.

Two Stars for Comfort, produced at Garrick Theatre and Royal Court Theatre, Liverpool, England, both 1962, published by Methuen, 1962, and in Plays, 1989.

Collect Your Hand Baggage, produced at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, London, 1962, produced in Germany, 1963, produced as a television production, published by Samuel French, 1960, published in Lunch Hour and Other Plays, Methuen, 1960, and in Five Plays, Methuen, 1970.

The Judge, produced at Deutsches Schauspielhaus, Hamburg, West Germany (now Germany), then in English cities, 1967, published by Methuen, 1967, and in Plays, 1989.

Call Me a Liar, produced in London, 1968, broadcast as a television production, BBC, 1958, published in Lunch Hour and Other Plays, Methuen, 1960, and in The Television Playwright: Ten Plays for BBC Television, edited by Michael Barry, Hill & Wang, 1960.

Come As You Are (contains Bermondsey, Gloucester Road, Marble Arch, and Mill Hill), produced at New Theatre, London, 1970, produced as television productions, and published as Come As You Are: Four Short Plays, Methuen, 1971, in Edwin and Other Plays, Penguin, 1984, and in Plays, 1989, Gloucester Road also published by Samuel French, 1971.

A Voyage round My Father (based on his radio play), produced at Greenwich Theatre, London, 1970, then Haymarket Theatre Royal, London, 1971, produced as television productions, published by Methuen, 1971, by Samuel French, 1971, and in Plays, 1989.

(With others) Conflicts, produced in London, 1971.

Collaborators, produced at Duchess Theatre, London, 1973, published by Eyre Methuen, 1973, and in Plays, 1989.

The Bells of Hell (version of The Prince of Darkness), produced in Richmond, England, then Garrick Theatre, 1977, published by Samuel French, 1978.

Heaven and Hell (contains The Fear of Heaven [based on his radio play Mr. Luby's Fear of Heaven] and The Prince of Darkness), produced at Greenwich Theatre, London, c. 1977, published by Samuel French, 1978, published in Edwin and Other Plays, Penguin, 1984, The Prince of Darkness published by Longman, 1989.

John Mortimer's Casebook (includes The Dock Brief, Interlude, and The Prince of Darkness), produced at the Young Vic Theatre, London, 1982.

When That I Was, produced at the Arts Centre, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, 1982.

Edwin, Orange Tree Room, Richmond, England, 1996, produced as a radio production, 1982, published in Edwin and Other Plays, Penguin, 1984.

Naked Justice, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds, England, 2001.

Hock and Soda Water, Chichester Festival Theatre, Minerva Theatre, Chichester, England, 2001, Samuel French, 2005.

Mortimer's Miscellany, King's Head Theatre, London, 2007.

Author of other works, including Interlude, which was also produced as part of the stage production John Mortimer's Casebook, Young Vic Theatre, London, 1982; Marble Arch, which was also produced as part of the stage production Come As You Are, New Theatre, London, 1970, produced as a television production, and published as Come As You Are: Four Short Plays, Methuen, 1971, and in Plays, 1989; and Prince of Darkness (produced with The Fear of Heaven as part of Heaven and Hell), produced at Greenwich Theatre, London, c. 1977, published by Samuel French, 1978, published in Edwin and Other Plays, Penguin, 1984, The Prince of Darkness also published by Longman, 1989. Author of the son et lumiere scripts Hampton Court and Brighton Pavilion, two works which were adapted as television productions. Mortimer's work has been translated into different languages and has been produced in different media.

Writings for the Stage; Contributor of Sketches:

(With others) "Cleaning Up Justice," One to Another (also known as Sketches from One to Another), produced in London, 1959, published by Samuel French, 1960.

One over the Eight, produced in London, 1961.

Changing Gear, produced in Nottingham, England, 1965.

Writings for the Stage; Adaptor:

I, Claudius (based on the novels I, Claudius and Claudius the God by Robert Graves), produced at Queen's Theatre, London, 1972.

A Christmas Carol (based on the work by Charles Dickens), produced by Royal Shakespeare Company, Barbican Theatre, London, 1994 and 1995, published as Charles Dickens: A Christmas Carol, Samuel French, 1995.

Writings for the Stage; Translator:

A Flea in Her Ear (based on the play by Georges-Leon-Jules-Marie Feydeau), produced by the National Theatre Company, Old Vic Theatre, London, 1966, and produced in Tucson, AZ, 1979, published by Samuel French, 1968, and in Three Boulevard Farces, Penguin, 1985.

Cat among the Pigeons (based on the play by Feydeau), produced at the Prince of Wales Theatre, London, 1969, and Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, Milwaukee, WI, 1971, published by Samuel French, 1970.

The Captain of Koepenick (based on a play by Carl Zuckmayer), produced by the National Theatre Company, Old Vic Theatre, 1971, published by Methuen, 1971.

The Lady from Maxim's (based on the play by Feydeau), produced by the National Theatre Company, Lyttelton Theatre, London, 1977, published by Heinemann, 1977, and in Three Boulevard Farces, Penguin, 1985.

A Little Hotel on the Side (based on the play by Feydeau and Maurice Desvalliers), produced by the National Theatre Company, Olivier Theatre, London, 1984, and at the Belasco Theatre, New York City, 1992, published by Samuel French, 1984, and in Three Boulevard Farces, Penguin, 1985.

Die Fledermaus (based on the opera by Johann Strauss and the libretto by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halevy), music by Johann Strauss, produced in London, 1989, published by Viking, 1989.

Screenplays:

(With Lewis Gilbert and Vernon Harris) Ferry to Hong Kong, J. Arthur Rank, 1959.

(With Truman Capote and William Archibald) The Innocents, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1961.

Guns of Darkness, Warner Bros., 1962.

(With others) I Thank a Fool, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1962.

Lunch Hour (based on his play), Bryanston Films/London Films, 1962, also produced on stage and as a radio production, published by Samuel French, 1961, in Lunch Hour and Other Plays, Methuen, 1960, in Five Plays, Methuen, 1970, and in Plays, 1989.

The Running Man (also known as The Ballad of the Running Man and Carol Reed's "The Running Man"), Columbia, 1963.

(With Penelope Mortimer) Bunny Lake Is Missing, Columbia, 1965.

A Flea in Her Ear (also known as La puce a l'oreille; based on his translation of the play by Georges-Leon-Jules-Marie Feydeau), Twentieth Century-Fox, 1968.

John and Mary, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1969.

Maschenka (also known as Mashenka; based on the novel by Vladimir Nabokov), Goldcrest Films International/Concorde Filmverleih, c. 1986.

Tea with Mussolini (also known as Un te con Mussolini; based on the autobiographical writings of Franco Zeffirelli), G2 Films, 1999.

Writings for Radio:

Like Men Betrayed (adaptation of his novel), BBC, 1955, novel published by Collins, 1953, Lippincott, 1954, Chivers Press, 1993.

No Hero, BBC, 1955.

"The Dock Brief," BBC Third Programme, BBC, 1957, produced as a film, produced as a television production, and produced on stage, published in Three Plays, Elek, 1958, Grove Press, 1962, in Five Plays, Methuen, 1970, and in Plays, 1989.

I Spy, 1957, also produced on stage and as a television production, published in Three Plays, Elek, 1958, Grove Press, 1962, and in Five Plays, Methuen, 1970.

Three Winters (adaptation of his novel), BBC, 1958, novel published by Collins, 1956.

Lunch Hour, c. 1960, also produced on stage, produced as a film, and published by Samuel French, 1961, and in Lunch Hour and Other Plays, Methuen, 1960, in Five Plays, Methuen, 1970, and in Plays, 1989.

A Voyage round My Father, BBC, 1963, also produced on stage, as a radio production, and as other television productions, published by Methuen, 1971, by Samuel French, 1971, and in Plays, 1989.

Education of an Englishman, BBC, 1964.

Personality Split, BBC, 1964.

A Rare Device, BBC, 1965.

Mr. Luby's Fear of Heaven, BBC, 1976, related to the stage production Heaven and Hell (contains The Prince of Darkness as well as The Fear of Heaven), produced at Greenwich Theatre, London, c. 1978, published by Samuel French, 1978, published in Edwin and Other Plays, Penguin, 1984.

Rumpole (based on his writings and teleplays), BBC Radio Four, beginning c. 1980.

Edwin, 1982, published in Edwin and Other Plays, Penguin, 1984, also produced as a television production and a stage production.

Glasnost, 1988.

Writings for the Stage; Play Collections:

Three Plays (contains The Dock Brief, I Spy, and What Shall We Tell Caroline?), Elek, 1958, Grove Press, 1962.

Lunch Hour and Other Plays (contains Call Me a Liar, Collect Your Hand Baggage, and David and Broccoli), Methuen, 1960.

Five Plays (contains Collect Your Hand Baggage, The Dock Brief, I Spy, Lunch Hour, and What Shall We Tell Caroline?), Methuen, 1970.

Edwin and Other Plays (contains Bermondsey, Edwin, The Fear of Heaven, Marble Arch, and The Prince of Darkness), Penguin, 1984.

Three Boulevard Farces (contains A Flea in Her Ear, The Lady from Maxim's, and A Little Hotel on the Side), Penguin, 1985.

Plays (contains Collaborators, The Dock Brief, The Judge, Two Stars for Comfort, and Voyage round My Father), 1989.

Novels:

Charade, Lane, 1948, Viking, 1986.

Rumming Park, Lane, 1949.

Silver Hook, Morrow, 1950, published in England as Answer Yes or No, Lane, 1950.

Like Men Betrayed, Collins, 1953, Lippincott, 1954, Chivers Press, 1993, also produced as a radio production.

Three Winters, Collins, 1956, also produced as a radio production, BBC, 1958.

The Narrowing Stream, Collins, 1956, Viking, 1989.

(As Geoffrey Lincoln) No Moaning of the Bar, Bles, 1957.

Will Shakespeare (related to his 1978 television series), Hodder & Stoughton, 1977, published as Will Shakespeare: The Untold Story, Delacorte, 1978.

Rumpole of the Bailey, Penguin, 1978, published in A First Rumpole Omnibus, Penguin, 1983.

The Trials of Rumpole, Penguin, 1979, published in A First Rumpole Omnibus, Penguin, 1983.

Rumpole, Allen Lane, 1980.

Rumpole's Return, Penguin, 1980, published in A First Rumpole Omnibus, Penguin, 1983.

Regina v. Rumpole, Allen Lane, 1981.

Rumpole for the Defence, Penguin, 1982, published in The Second Rumpole Omnibus, Viking, 1987, Penguin, 1988.

A First Rumpole Omnibus (contains Rumpole of the Bailey, Rumpole's Return, and The Trials of Rumpole), Penguin, 1983.

Rumpole and the Golden Thread, Penguin, 1983, published in The Second Rumpole Omnibus, Viking, 1987, Penguin, 1988.

Paradise Postponed (related to his series of the same name), Viking, 1986, published in Paradise Postponed: The Rapstone Chronicles, Penguin, 1993.

Rumpole's Last Case, Penguin, 1987, published in The Second Rumpole Omnibus, Viking, 1987, Penguin, 1988.

The Second Rumpole Omnibus (contains Rumpole and the Golden Thread, Rumpole for the Defence, and Rumpole's Last Case), Viking, 1987, Penguin, 1988.

Rumpole and the Age of Miracles, Penguin, 1988.

Summer's Lease (related to his series of the same name), Viking, 1988.

Rumpole a la Carte, Viking, 1990.

Titmuss Regained, Viking, 1990, published in Paradise Postponed: The Rapstone Chronicles, Penguin, 1993.

Rumpole on Trial, Viking, 1992.

The Best of Rumpole, Penguin, 1993.

Dunster, Viking, 1993.

Paradise Postponed: The Rapstone Chronicles (includes Paradise Postponed and Titmuss Regained), Penguin, 1993.

Rumpole and the Angel of Death, Viking, 1995.

Felix in the Underworld, Viking, 1997.

The Sound of Trumpets, Viking, 1998.

Rumpole Rests His Case, Penguin, 2003.

Rumpole and the Primrose Path, Penguin, 2004.

Rumpole and the Penge Bungalow Murders, Penguin, 2005, audio version released by Sound Library/BBC Audiobooks America, 2005.

Rumple and the Reign of Terror, Viking, 2006, audio version released by Sound Library/BBC Audiobooks, 2007.

Quite Honestly, Penguin, 2007.

Rumpole Misbehaves, Viking, 2007.

Nonfiction:

(With Penelope Mortimer) With Love and Lizards (travel), M. Joseph, 1957.

Clinging to the Wreckage: A Part of Life (autobiography), Ticknor & Fields, 1982.

In Character (interviews), Allen Lane, 1983.

Character Parts (interviews; originally published in Sunday Times), Viking, 1987, Penguin, 1988.

Murderers and Other Friends: Another Part of Life (autobiography), Viking, 1994, audio version released by Penguin Audio, 1995.

The Summer of a Dormouse: Another Part of Life (autobiography), Viking, 2000, published as The Summer of a Dormouse: A Year of Growing Old Disgracefully, Viking, 2001.

When There's a Will: Thoughts on the Good Life (autobiography), Viking, 2005.

Drama critic for the Evening Standard, New Statesman, and Observer. Contributor to periodicals. Mortimer's manuscripts and papers are collected at various institutions, including Boston University, the University of California, Los Angeles, and the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin.

Editor:

Famous Trials, Penguin, 1984.

(And author of introduction) Great Law and Order Stories, Bellew, 1990, Norton, 1992.

The Oxford Book of Villains, Oxford University Press, 1992.

DVDs:

Provided material for Rumpole of the Bailey DVDs.

ADAPTATIONS

The film The Dock Brief (also known as Trial and Error), released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1962, was based on Mortimer's radio production, television production, and play The Dock Brief.

OTHER SOURCES

Books:

Concise Dictionary of British Literary Biography, Volume 8: Contemporary Writers, 1960-Present, Gale Research, 1992.

Contemporary Authors Online, Thomson Gale, 2005.

Contemporary Dramatists, sixth edition, St. James Press, 1999.

Contemporary Novelists, seventh edition, St. James Press, 2001.

Grove, Valerie, Voyage round John Mortimer, Viking, 2007.

Hayman, Ronald, British Theatre since 1955: A Reassessment, Oxford University Press, 1979.

International Dictionary of Theatre, Volume 2: Playwrights, St. James Press, 1993.

Mortimer, Penelope, About Time Too: 1940-78, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1993.

Taylor, John Russell, The Angry Theatre, Hill & Wang, 1962, revised edition, 1969, published in England as Anger and After, Methuen, 1962, revised edition, 1969.

The Writers Directory, 24th edition, St. James Press, 2008.

Periodicals:

Armchair Detective: Quarterly Journal Devoted to the Appreciation of Mystery, Detective, and Suspense Fiction, fall, 1987, pp. 340-49.

Independent on Sunday, October 1, 2006, p. 65.

Paris Review, winter, 1988, pp. 96-128.

Radio Times, July 15, 2006, p. 107.

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"Mortimer, John 1923- (Geoffrey Lincoln; Sir John Mortimer; John Mortimer, QC)." Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Mortimer, John 1923- (Geoffrey Lincoln; Sir John Mortimer; John Mortimer, QC)." Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 22, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/mortimer-john-1923-geoffrey-lincoln-sir-john-mortimer-john-mortimer-qc

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John Clifford Mortimer

John Clifford Mortimer

Best known for his Rumpole of the Bailey television series, John Clifford Mortimer (born 1923) was a noted and prolific writer of novels, stories, and plays for radio, stage, television, and film, as well as a translator, interviewer, critic, editor, and lawyer.

John Clifford Mortimer was born to Clifford Mortimer, a barrister, and Kathleen May (Smith) Mortimer in London, England, on April 21, 1923. As an only child he grew up in an isolated, adult-centered environment. By the time Mortimer was 13 his father was totally blind and his mother devoted herself to leading him about London's law courts and their own Oxfordshire garden. Mortimer read novels and poetry to his father, who in turn told him stories and took him to the theater.

At his progressive prep school at Harrow and eventually at Brasenose College, Oxford, Mortimer mingled with England's upper classes and was encouraged to indulge his love of theater and acting. While at Harrow he had his first story published in the school literary magazine and began writing his first novel. Realizing that his dream of being an actor was impractical, he decided to be a writer. His father sent him to Oxford to study law so that he would "have something to fall back on," but Mortimer continued to write.

After graduating from Oxford in 1942, Mortimer, who was declared unfit for active army service because of vision problems, got a job as fourth assistant director and screen writer for the Crown Film Unit and spent the war years making propaganda documentaries for the government. Charade (1947), his first published novel, is based on these film unit experiences. Charade was followed by five more novels in the next decade. Rumming Park (1948), Answer Yes or No (1950), Like Men Betrayed (1953), The Narrowing Stream (1954), and Three Winters (1956) established Mortimer's reputation as a competent if somewhat derivative writer.

Called to the bar in 1948, Mortimer handled divorces and then practiced criminal law to support the children of his first wife, Penelope Ruth Fletcher Dimont, whom he married in 1949. Her four daughters from a previous marriage and their own two children, Sally (1950) and Jeremy (1955), provided an antidote to the isolation of his youth.

Mortimer had already done radio adaptations of his fiction, and in 1957 he wrote his first radio play for the BBC Third Program. The Dock Brief was well received and established Mortimer's gift for ironic comedy as well as his tendency to use autobiographical material as the basis for his writing. During the next 20 years Mortimer wrote nearly twenty more original one act and full-length plays, many of which were adapted for radio, stage, and television. He also made frequent trips to Hollywood to work on screen plays. As a playwright, Mortimer was compared to Chekhov and Gogol, Ionesco, Tennessee Williams, and Edward Albee. While often grouped with Britain's "Angry Young Men" of the late 1950s (Osborne, Wesker, and Pinter), his main interest was charting the decline of the middle class rather than the rise of the working class.

The menage a trois, the failure to communicate, and the unhappy marriage are themes to which he returned time and time again. I Spy (1957), What Shall We Tell Caroline? (1958), Call Me a Liar (1958), The Wrong Side of the Park (1960), Lunch Hour (1960), Collect Your Hand Baggage (1962), four one acts in Come as You Are (1970), Collaborators (1973), and The Bells of Hell (1977) are all bitingly comic plays which sympathetically explore relationships between men and women and the various accommodations they make, for the most part, to maintain the status quo. Not surprisingly, it was during this period that Mortimer's own first marriage was floundering; he was divorced in 1972 and married Penelope Gollop the same year.

In addition to the autobiographical probing of male-female relationships, Mortimer's writing drew heavily on his childhood experiences and professional expertise, first as a barrister and then as queen's council. His plays Two Stars for Comfort (1962) and The Judge (1967) introduce characters who view the law as a repressive force. The law is also a focus in the widely praised, highly autobiographical A Voyage Round My Father (stage play 1970 and television adaptation 1980), which explores the relationship between Mortimer and his blind father. Much of this material reappears in his autobiography, Clinging to the Wreckage: A Part of Life (1982), which wittily and lovingly details Mortimer's life through 1970. Another installation of his memoirs was Murderers and Other Friends in 1994.

The late 1970s and early 1980s were particularly prolific years. In addition to his autobiographical works, he also adapted numerous Graham Greene stories (1976) and Evelyn Waugh's novel Brideshead Revisited (1981) for television. The first Rumpole of the Bailey series was produced for the BBC in 1975; five more followed. These programs feature a seedy, aging barrister, Horace Rumpole, played by Leo McKern, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Mortimer. Elements of Mortimer's father and Mortimer himself are evident in the composite Rumpole who, plain spoken, irascible, and definitely anti-establishment, often has more sympathy for his clients than his peers. Ten collections of Rumpole stories have been published to date, most recently Rumpole on Trial (1992), The Best of Rumpole (1993), and Rumpole and the Angel of Death (1996).

Mortimer's versatility continued unabated. He was known as a translator, primarily of Feydeau farces, as a skilled interviewer for In Character (1983) and Character Parts (1986), and as an editor for Famous Trials (1984), Great Law and Order Stories (1991), and The Oxford Book of Villains (1992). But it was his return to the novel after an absence of nearly 30 years that was perhaps most noteworthy. Summer's Lease was published in 1988. Paradise Postponed (1985) and its sequel, Titmuss Regained (1990), explore politics and power in the post World War II England of Margaret Thatcher. Mortimer's later novel, Dunster (1992), peopled with Dickensian eccentrics and figures from his past, expanded his reputation as a teller of wryly humorous stories. His Felix in the Underworld was published in 1997.

Further Reading

A Voyage Round My Father (1970), Clinging to the Wreckage: A Part of Life (1982) and Murderers and Other Friends (1994) are autobiographical. No book-length critical study of Mortimer's work yet exists, but chapters discussing his plays have appeared in John Russell Taylor's Anger and After: A Guide to the New British Drama (1969), George E. Well-warth's Theater of Protest and Paradox: Developments in Avant-Garde Drama (1971), and Ronald Hayman's British Theater Since 1955: A Reassessment (1979). Good portraits of Mortimer appeared in the New Yorker. (March 20, 1995) and in The New York Times (April 12, 1995). □

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Mortimer, John (Clifford)

MORTIMER, John (Clifford)

Nationality: British. Born: Hampstead, London, 21 April 1923. Education: Harrow School, Middlesex, 1937-40; Brasenose College, Oxford, 1940-42, B.A. 1947; called to the bar, 1948; Queen's Counsel, 1966; Master of the Bench, Inner Temple, 1975. Military Service: Served with the Crown Film Units as scriptwriter during World War II. Family: Married 1) Penelope Dimont in 1949 (divorced 1971, deceased 1999), one son and one daughter; 2) Penny Gollop in 1972, one daughter. Career: drama critic, New Statesman, Evening Standard, and Observer, 1972, all London; member of the National Theatre Board, 1968-88; president, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, and Oxford Naturalists' Trust, from 1984; chairman, League of Dramatists; chairman of the council, Royal Society of Literature for 1989; chairman, Royal Court Theatre since 1990; president, Howard League for Penal Reform since 1991; chairman, the Royal Society of Literature since 1992. Lives in Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire. Awards: Italia prize, for radio play, 1958; Screenwriters Guild award, for television play, 1970; BAFTA award, for television series, 1980; Yorkshire Post award, 1983. D. Litt.: Susquehanna University, Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, 1985; University of St. Andrews, Fife, 1987; University of Nottingham, 1989; LL.D.: Exeter University, 1986. C.B.E. (Commander, Order of the British Empire), 1986; knighted, 1998. Agent: Peters Fraser and Dunlop, 503-504 The Chambers, Chelsea Harbour, Lots Road, London SW10 0XF, England.

Publications

Novels

Charade. London, Lane, 1948.

Rumming Park. London, Lane, 1948.

Answer Yes or No. London, Lane, 1950; as The Silver Hook, NewYork, Morrow, 1950.

Like Men Betrayed. London, Collins, 1953; Philadelphia, Lippincott, 1954.

The Narrowing Stream. London, Collins, 1954; New York, Viking, 1989.

Three Winters. London, Collins, 1956.

Will Shakespeare: The Untold Story. London, Hodder and Stoughton, 1977; New York, Delacorte Press, 1978.

Paradise Postponed. London and New York, Viking, 1985.

Summer's Lease. London and New York, Viking, 1988.

Titmuss Regained. London and New York, Viking, 1990.

Dunster. London and New York, Viking Penguin, 1992.

Rumpole and the Angel of Death. New York, Viking, 1996.

Felix in the Underworld. New York, Viking, 1997.

The Sound of Trumpets. New York, Viking, 1999.

Short Stories

Rumpole. London, Allen Lane, 1980.

Rumpole of the Bailey. London, Penguin, 1978; New York, Penguin, 1980.

The Trials of Rumpole. London, Penguin, 1979; New York, Penguin, 1981.

Regina v. Rumpole. London, Allen Lane, 1981.

Rumpole's Return. London, Penguin, 1980; New York, Penguin, 1982.

Rumpole for the Defence. London, Penguin, 1982.

Rumpole and the Golden Thread. New York, Penguin, 1983.

The First Rumpole Omnibus (includes Rumpole of the Bailey, The Trials of Rumpole, Rumpole's Return). London, Penguin, 1983.

Rumpole's Last Case. London, Penguin, 1987; New York, Penguin, 1988.

The Second Rumpole Omnibus (includes Rumpole for the Defence, Rumpole and the Golden Thread, Rumpole's Last Case). London, Viking, 1987; New York, Penguin, 1988.

Rumpole and the Age of Miracles. London, Penguin, 1988; NewYork, Penguin, 1989.

Rumpole à la Carte. London and New York, Viking Penguin, 1990.

Rumpole on Trial. London and New York, Viking Penguin, 1992.

The Best of Rumpole. London and New York, Viking Penguin, 1993.

The Third Rumpole Omnibus (includes Rumpole and the Age of Miracles, Rumpole a la Carte, Rumpole and the Angel of Death.) London, Viking, and New York, Penguin, 1998.

Plays

The Dock Brief (broadcast 1957; produced London, 1958; New York, 1961). In Three Plays, 1958.

I Spy (broadcast 1957; produced Salisbury, Wiltshire, and PalmBeach, Florida, 1959). In Three Plays, 1958.

What Shall We Tell Caroline? (produced London, 1958; New York, 1961). In Three Plays, 1958.

Three Plays: The Dock Brief, What Shall We Tell Caroline?, I Spy. London, Elek, 1958; New York, Grove Press, 1962.

Call Me a Liar (televised 1958; produced London, 1968). In Lunch Hour and Other Plays, 1960; in The Television Playwright: Ten Plays for B.B.C. Television, edited by Michael Barry, New York, Hill and Wang, 1960. Sketches in One to Another (produced London, 1959). London, French, 1960.

The Wrong Side of the Park (produced London, 1960). London, Heinemann, 1960.

Lunch Hour (broadcast 1960; produced Salisbury, Wiltshire, 1960;London, 1961; New York, 1977). In Lunch Hour and Other Plays 1960; published separately, New York, French, 1961.

David and Broccoli (televised 1960). In Lunch Hour and Other Plays, 1960.

Lunch Hour and Other Plays (includes Collect Your Hand Baggage, David and Broccoli, Call Me a Liar ). London, Methuen, 1960.

Collect Your Hand Baggage (produced Wuppertal, Germany, 1963).In Lunch Hour and Other Plays, 1960. Sketches in One over the Eight (produced London, 1961).

Two Stars for Comfort (produced London, 1962). London, Methuen, 1962.

A Voyage round My Father (broadcast 1963; produced London, 1970). London, Methuen, 1971. Sketches in Changing Gear (produced Nottingham, 1965).

A Flea in Her Ear, adaptation of a play by Feydeau (producedLondon, 1966; Tucson, Arizona, 1979). London and New York, French, 1967.

A Choice of Kings (televised 1966). In Playbill Three, edited by AlanDurband, London, Hutchinson, 1969.

The Judge (produced London, 1967). London, Methuen, 1967.

Desmond (televised 1968). In The Best Short Plays 1971, edited byStanley Richards, Philadelphia, Chilton, 1971.

Cat Among the Pigeons, adaptation of a play by Feydeau (producedLondon, 1969; Milwaukee, 1971). New York, French, 1970.

Come As You Are: Four Short Plays (includes Mill Hill, Bermondsey, Gloucester Road, Marble Arch) (produced London, 1970). London, Methuen, 1971.

Five Plays (includes The Dock Brief, What Shall We Tell Caroline?, I Spy, Lunch Hour, Collect Your Hand Baggage ). London, Methuen, 1970.

The Captain of Köpenick, adaptation of a play by Carl Zuckmayer (produced London, 1971). London, Methuen, 1971.

Conflicts, with others (produced London, 1971).

I, Claudius, adaptation of the novels I, Claudius and Claudius the God by Robert Graves (produced London, 1972).

Knightsbridge (televised 1972). London, French, 1973.

Collaborators (produced London, 1973). London, Eyre Methuen, 1973.

The Fear of Heaven (as Mr. Lucy's Fear of Heaven, broadcast 1976; as The Fear of Heaven, produced with The Prince of Darkness as Heaven and Hell, London, 1976). London, French, 1978.

Heaven and Hell (includes The Fear of Heaven and The Prince of Darkness ) (produced London, 1976; revised version of The Prince of Darkness, as The Bells of Hell produced Richmond, Surrey, and London, 1977). The Bells of Hell published London, French, 1978.

The Lady from Maxim's, adaptation of a play by Feydeau (producedLondon, 1977). London, Heinemann, 1977.

John Mortimer's Casebook (includes The Dock Brief, The Prince of Darkness, Interlude ) (produced London, 1982).

When That I Was (produced Ottawa, 1982).

Edwin (broadcast 1982). In Edwin and Other Plays, 1984.

A Little Hotel on the Side, adaptation of a play by Feydeau andMaurice Desvalliers (produced London, 1984). In Three Boulevard Farces, 1985.

Edwin and Other Plays (includes Bermondsey, Marble Arch, The Fear of Heaven, The Prince of Darkness ). London, Penguin, 1984.

Three Boulevard Farces (includes A Little Hotel on the Side, A Flea in Her Ear, The Lady from Maxim's ). London, Penguin, 1985.

Die Fledermaus, adaptation of the libretto by Henri Meihac andLudovic Halévy, music by Johann Stauss (produced London, 1989). London, Viking, 1989.

A Christmas Carol, adaptation of the novel by Charles Dickens (produced London, 1994); published as Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, New York and London, S. French, 1995.

Screenplays:

Ferry to Hong Kong, with Lewis Gilbert and VernonHarris, 1959; The Innocents, with Truman Capote and William Archibald, 1961; Guns of Darkness, 1962; I Thank a Fool, with others, 1962; Lunch Hour, 1962; The Running Man, 1963; Bunny Lake Is Missing, with Penelope Mortimer, 1964; A Flea in Her Ear, 1967; John and Mary, 1969.; Tea with Mussolini, 1998.

Radio Plays:

Like Men Betrayed, 1955; No Hero, 1955; The Dock Brief, 1957; I Spy, 1957; Three Winters, 1958; Lunch Hour, 1960; The Encyclopedist, 1961; A Voyage round My Father, 1963; Personality Split, 1964; Education of an Englishman, 1964; A Rare Device, 1965; Mr. Luby's Fear of Heaven, 1976; Edwin, 1982; Rumpole, from his own stories, 1988; Glasnost, 1988.

Television Plays:

Call Me a Liar, 1958; David and Broccoli, 1960; A Choice of Kings, 1966; The Exploding Azalea, 1966; The Head Waiter, 1966; Hughie, 1967; The Other Side, 1967; Desmond, 1968; Infidelity Took Place, 1968; Married Alive, 1980; Swiss Cottage, 1972; Knightsbridge, 1972; Rumpole of the Bailey, 1975, and series, 1978, 1979, 1987, 1988; A Little Place off the Edgware Road, The Blue Film, The Destructors, The Case for the Defence, Chagrin in Three Parts, The Invisible Japanese Gentlemen, Special Duties, and Mortmain, all from stories by Graham Greene, 1975-76; Will Shakespeare, 1978; Rumpole's Return, 1980; Unity, from the book by David Pryce-Jones, 1981; Brideshead Revisited, from the novel by Evelyn Waugh 1981; Edwin, 1984; The Ebony Tower, from the story by John Fowles, 1984; Paradise Postponed, from his own novel, 1986; Summer's Lease, from his own novel, 1989; The Waiting Room, 1989; Titmuss Regained, 1991; Cider with Rosie, 1998; Don Quixote, 2000.

Other

No Moaning of the Bar (as Geoffrey Lincoln). London, Bles, 1957.

With Love and Lizards (travel), with Penelope Mortimer. London, Joseph, 1957.

Clinging to the Wreckage: A Part of Life (autobiography) . London, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, and New Haven, Connecticut, Ticknor and Fields, 1982.

Murderers and Other Friends (autobiography). London and NewYork, Viking Penguin, 1994.

In Character (interviews). London, Allen Lane, 1983.

The Liberty of the Citizen (lecture), with Franklin Thomas and LordHunt of Tanworth. London, Granada, 1983.

Character Parts (interviews). London, Viking, 1986.

Editor, with Harry Hodge and James H. Hodge, Famous Trials. London, Viking, and New York, Penguin, 1984.

Editor, Great Law and Order Stories. London, Bellew, 1990.

*

Manuscript Collections:

Boston University; University of California, Los Angeles.

* * *

Now approaching eighty but showing no signs of reducing his considerable literary output, John Mortimer continues as one of England's best known living authors. His stories, novels, plays, film and television scripts, and autobiographical writing have won him both critical and popular success. Still best known for his engaging "Rumpole of the Bailey" stories, inspired by his own experiences as a working barrister, Mortimer has published two memoirs, Clinging to the Wreckage and Murderers and Other Friends, complementing the story only sketched in his early autobiographical television drama, A Voyage round My Father. He has also maintained a prolific output in fiction, publishing three installments in the "Rapstone Chronicles" series, a satiric look at English politics in the Thatcher and post-Thatcher era, and a number of free-standing novels about the manners and morals of contemporary English life.

In his earlier days, while still an active barrister, Mortimer wrote two novels which did not attract much attention: Like Men Betrayed, the story of a London solicitor whose son has misappropriated a client's investments, and The Narrowing Stream in which a young woman's murder disrupts the lives of an ordinary family. Though apprentice work, both novels take a characteristically perceptive view of English life and have many of the themes Mortimer would develop to better effect in his later novels.

Inspired perhaps by Evelyn Waugh, whose Brideshead Revisited Mortimer had adapted for television, Mortimer attempted his own novels of manners in the "Rapstone Chronicles," beginning with Paradise Postponed. Using many of the conventions of Victorian and Edwardian novels, though with telling variations, Mortimer deftly weaves throughout his story sharp observations on the state of postwar England. When the revered liberal Rector of Rapstone Fanner, Simeon Simcox, dies leaving his entire estate to Leslie Titmuss, Conservative M.P. from Rapstone, his widow and his two sons attempt to understand their father's surprising bequest. Mortimer traces the story of the Simcox, Titmuss, and Fanner families, moving back and forth in time until at last family secrets are revealed and the inheritance explained. Along the way, Mortimer draws on familiar character types from earlier English novels, from the idealistic village Rector (reminiscent of Trollope's Septimus Harding) to any of Dickens's lower-class boys striving for acceptance in high society. In Paradise Postponed, however, the characters break their stereotypes. The seeming innocence of the rector is qualified at the end, and the working lad, Titmuss, at first treated sympathetically, proves to be utterly without scruple as he marries his way into the best family of the village on his climb up the ranks of the Thatcher government. Mortimer's own political leanings come through clearly. The leftists in the novel may be muddle-headed and ineffective, but they are never as mean-spirited as their right-wing opponents.

Following the success of Paradise Postponed and responding to the public's interest in the character of Leslie Titmuss, Mortimer continued his story in Titmuss Regained. Now a conservative government minister, Titmuss purchases the very Fanner Manor where his mother had worked as a servant and which in the earlier novel had represented unattainable social preeminence. But corporate developers are determined to reconstruct the village into a real estate agent's version of English rustic life. Mortimer is at his best describing the various factions involved in promoting or opposing the enterprise: developers, environmentalists, local politicians, even the villagers themselvesall revealed as self-seeking hypocrites. While his portrait of this cluster of peripheral characters is bitingly satiric, Mortimer is somewhat easier on his hero, and in his efforts to make his second marriage a success, he even wins back a measure of the sympathy we felt for Titmuss as a child in Paradise Postponed.

In the third novel in the series, The Sound of Trumpets, Leslie, now Lord Titmuss, having been swept out of office by the Labour Party victory, has retired to the country. Angry at the new Conservative leadership, he forms an alliance with an idealistic young politician, Terry Flitton, whose socialist political philosophy Titmuss softens into a more centrist, and electable, stance. But Flitton, having already betrayed his principles to get elected, is caught up in an extramarital affair with Agnes Simcox, reminding the dedicated Mortimer reader of the intricate romantic relationships chronicled in Paradise Postponed. The ensuing scandal ends Flitton's political career, but the novel ends sadly for Titmuss as well, as the master manipulator is left to face death alone. Whereas Mortimer's sympathies had been for the social welfare programs of the left, this bitter portrayal of English politics calls for a plague on both Tory and Labour houses.

For the same moral vision but a less pessimistic outlook, Mortimer has returned to more congenial subjects than contemporary politics. In Summer's Lease Mortimer draws on themes of the English abroad he had found in Brideshead Revisited. The setting is Tuscany, where an English family has leased a villa for the summer. The wife, Molly Pargenter, is determined to investigate the mysterious absence of their landlord, uncovering a complex web of relationships in which her family becomes entangled. As she comes to terms with what is happening around her, she finds that she must fight to save her own integrity and her marriage. Her father-in-law's irresponsible nonchalance beautifully contrasts Molly's determination to understand and control her life. While Mortimer's focus is still on English character types, the Italian surroundings depict those traits in sharper focus.

An incident involving the activities of English officers serving in Italy during World War II plays a role in Dunster, but the core of the novel is the relationship between the narrator, Philip Progmire, an accountant and amateur actor, and his old school nemesis, Richard Dunster, now a producer of television documentaries. The determined and dynamic but ruthless Dunster has accused Progmire's employer of a war crime, prompting a libel suit. Mortimer explores the comic effects of the contrast between Progmire and Dunster, though the reader may be too sympathetic to the long-suffering narrator to enjoy the humor in Dunster's reckless schemes. The conclusion of the war-crime plot, that even the best and the brightest are potential war criminals, may be too unsettling for what is essentially a comic novel.

For the more recent Felix in the Underworld, Mortimer describes two worlds he knows well, the criminal justice system and the publishing business. The main character, Felix Morsom, is a minor novelist once nominated for the Booker Prize and once compared to Chekhov. Criticized for writing stories about insignificant people to whom nothing ever happens, Felix finds himself, for the first time in his life, a celebrity, accused first in a paternity action and then in a gory murder. Mortimer is at his best describing police more interested in closing cases than in finding criminals, attorneys more concerned about their reputations than about justice, publishers more eager for profits than for literary merit. Felix, the mild-mannered observer of life, has to endure living among the homeless on the streets of London and a few weeks in prison before he is finally exonerated. The experience, however threatening, promises to improve his lonely, routine existence.

In the many genres and media he has used in his fifty-plus years of writing, Mortimer offers a view of humankind that is rarely comforting, but he manages to show us our worst side without condemning us. Like his Horace Rumpole, who has no romantic illusions about the criminals he defends, Mortimer is simultaneously harsh and forgiving. The first quality gives his work its import, the latter its appeal.

Robert E. Lynch

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"Mortimer, John (Clifford)." Contemporary Novelists. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Mortimer, John (Clifford)." Contemporary Novelists. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 22, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/mortimer-john-clifford

"Mortimer, John (Clifford)." Contemporary Novelists. . Retrieved August 22, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/mortimer-john-clifford