23 Facts About John Mortimer


Sir John Clifford Mortimer was a British barrister, dramatist, screenwriter and author.


John Mortimer is best known for novels about a barrister named Horace Rumpole.


John Mortimer was educated at the Dragon School, Oxford, and Harrow School, where he joined the Communist Party, forming a one-member cell.


At 17, John Mortimer went to Brasenose College, Oxford, where he read law, though he was actually based at Christ Church because the Brasenose buildings had been requisitioned for the war effort.


However, John Mortimer was still allowed to take his Bachelor of Arts degree in law in October 1943.


John Mortimer worked for the Crown Film Unit under Laurie Lee, writing scripts for propaganda documentaries.


John Mortimer based his first novel, Charade, on his experiences with the Crown Film Unit.


John Mortimer made his radio debut as a dramatist in 1955, adapting his own novel Like Men Betrayed for the BBC Light Programme.


John Mortimer was called to the Bar in 1948, at the age of 25.


John Mortimer has sometimes been cited wrongly as one of the Lady Chatterley's Lover obscenity trial defence team.


John Mortimer did successfully defend publishers John Calder and Marion Boyars in a 1968 appeal against a conviction for publishing Hubert Selby Jr.


John Mortimer assumed a similar role three years later, this time unsuccessfully, for Richard Handyside, the English publisher of The Little Red Schoolbook.


John Mortimer is best remembered for creating a barrister named Horace Rumpole, inspired by his father Clifford, whose speciality is defending those accused in London's Old Bailey.


John Mortimer created Rumpole for a BBC Play For Today in 1975.


John Mortimer dramatised many real-life cases of the barrister Edward Marshall-Hall in a radio series with former Doctor Who star Tom Baker as protagonist.


In 1975 and 1976, John Mortimer adapted eight of Graham Greene's short stories for episodes of Shades of Greene presented by Thames Television.


John Mortimer was credited with writing the script for Granada Television's 1981 serialization of Brideshead Revisited, based on the novel by Evelyn Waugh.


John Mortimer wrote the script, based on the autobiography of Franco Zeffirelli, for the 1999 film Tea with Mussolini, directed by Zeffirelli and starring Joan Plowright, Cher, Judi Dench, Maggie Smith and Lily Tomlin.


From 2004, John Mortimer worked as a consultant for the politico-legal US "dramedy" television show Boston Legal.


John Mortimer developed his career as a dramatist by rising early to write before attending court.


In September 2004, the Sunday Telegraph journalist Tim Walker revealed that John Mortimer had fathered another son, Ross Bentley, who was conceived during a secret affair John Mortimer had with the English actress Wendy Craig more than 40 years earlier.


Craig and John Mortimer had met when the actress had been cast playing a pregnant woman in John Mortimer's first full-length West End play, The Wrong Side of the Park.


John Mortimer suffered a stroke in October 2008 and died on 16 January 2009, aged 85.