John Mortimer

January 16, 2009

It is with sadness I note the passing of John Mortimer at age 85.


Unlike my situation viz a viz Miss Calisher, I am quite familiar with Mortimer’s work.  Quirky and liberal-minded like the author himself, his creation — the world of Horace Rumpole at the Old Bailey — is a perfect satirization of much of British society.  Mortimer’s capture of Horace’s relationship to his wife Hilda — She Who Must Be Obeyed, as he lovingly calls her — is sharp and closely observed.  The stories are familiar, predictable, middle-class cozy; a perfect backdrop to Horace Rumpole’s fierce wit on the foibles of modern society.

Voyage Round My Father“, Mortimer’s portrait of his verbally abusive lawyer father, also captures a whole class of British characters.  The movie version starring Laurence Olivier is worth a look.

Finally, Mortimer was a real-life lawyer.  In the 60s he was involved in important civil rights’ cases.  An all-round chap, really.  Like Rumpole he liked a good laugh and a good wine.   Bon voyage!