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John Mortimer

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April 20, 1986 | Ted C. Simmons, A former newspaperman, Simmons' absurdist play, "Exit Dickeybird," was a nominee for the TCG Plays-in-Process awards in 1985. and
Adark bit from W. H. Auden serves as epigraph; frames our novel: In the houses/ The little pianos are closed, and a clock strikes./ And all sway forward on the dangerous flood/ Of history, that never sleeps or dies,/ And, held one moment, burns the hand. The houses are those of Rapstone Fanner, an unremarkable village two hours by Ford Prefect from London; pianos there are silent--the voice of the turtle unheard; a clock strikes: History closes the book on World War II.
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January 19, 2009 | Tim Rutten
Sir John Mortimer, the preternaturally prolific English author who died Friday at 85, created two unforgettable characters: One was the irascible barrister Horace Rumpole; the other was himself. Rumpole, the craftily disheveled Old Bailey "hack," is probably best known through Leo McKern's portrayals on television. As a barrister, he is distinguished by his reverence for the common law, his contempt for judges and his refusal ever to prosecute or to enter a guilty plea.
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BOOKS
May 20, 1990 | CHARLES SOLOMON
Originally published in 1954, this quirky but eminently readable novel by the creator of the popular "Rumpole" series focuses on a favorite theme of that decade: the inability of one generation to communicate with another. Christopher Kennet, a mild, fiftysomething lawyer, strives "just to live" without reference to any creed or credo.
ENTERTAINMENT
June 25, 2008 | Tim Rutten, Times Staff Writer
EMOTIONALLY, William Butler Yeats was a 19th century man, and so his famous dictum that the creative soul must seek "perfection in the life or in the work" once seemed not only practical but also wise. What would the arch-poet have made, one wonders, of that particularly 20th century sort of artist for whom the bitter chaos of a decidedly imperfect life is the stuff of which the whole work is made? Superb snob that he was, Yeats might well have recognized the inevitability of such an art in an era in which aristocracy and peasantry/proletariat were pushed to history's margins and the sensibility of the self-absorbed upper middle classes emerged triumphant -- at least in the West.
NEWS
December 9, 1992 | JONATHAN KIRSCH, SPECIAL TO THE TIMES
Rumpole of the Bailey is back, and he's brought along an intriguing but distinctly unsettling chap named Dunster. The two characters are evidence of the remarkable versatility of their creator, barrister-turned-novelist John Mortimer. Rumpole, of course, is Mortimer's most celebrated literary invention, and "Rumpole on Trial" is the latest outing for the gruff but hugely entertaining criminal attorney who is now personified on PBS by the figure of Leo McKern.
BOOKS
March 26, 1989 | Clancy Sigal, Sigal teaches at USC's Journalism School. Author of several novels, including "Going Away," he divides his time between London and Los Angeles. and
John Mortimer is best known as creator of that lovable British TV series "Rumpole of the Bailey," which has become a virtual one-man industry including plays and six books of Rumpole stories. In English interviews and TV appearances, Mortimer's plump, cheerful persona positivley overflows with a sort of liberal bonhomie. He is living proof that much food and good wine needn't blunt your most obvious energies. But what about the more obscure demons?
ENTERTAINMENT
May 15, 1990 | CHARLES CHAMPLIN, TIMES ARTS EDITOR
The battles in favor of slow growth and against developers and the despoliation of countryside and cityscape is not only an American phenomenon. In a lethally satiric new novel, "Titmuss Regained" (Viking, $19.95) John Mortimer charts the valiant struggle to save the lovely if fictional Rapstone Valley from becoming a new town with a small shred of its natural woodland preserved as a theme park.
NEWS
December 14, 1990 | ELAINE KENDALL, SPECIAL TO THE TIMES
Rumpole, that amply built, slightly disheveled, classically educated, sadly underemployed barrister, is back in a new set of stories, "Rumpole a la Carte," and eager to take your case between appearances on PBS. Rumpole can't afford to be fussy. The clients who come his way tend to be desperate, impecunious, and unjustly accused; the glamorous, the wealthy and the guilty go elsewhere, to those with Savile Row suits, old school ties, and a more flexible approach to the majesty of English law.
NEWS
April 13, 1990 | ELAINE KENDALL
While John Mortimer's earlier novel set in England's unspoiled Rapstone Valley isn't a prerequisite to your delight in "Titmuss Regained," knowing these particular characters from adolescence can double the pleasure. Starting here and now with "Titmuss Regained," you'll meet Leslie Titmuss as a mature and successful politician, recently widowered by his reckless wife, Charlotte, who was run down by a lorry during a nuclear disarmament demonstration.
ENTERTAINMENT
June 25, 2008 | Tim Rutten, Times Staff Writer
EMOTIONALLY, William Butler Yeats was a 19th century man, and so his famous dictum that the creative soul must seek "perfection in the life or in the work" once seemed not only practical but also wise. What would the arch-poet have made, one wonders, of that particularly 20th century sort of artist for whom the bitter chaos of a decidedly imperfect life is the stuff of which the whole work is made? Superb snob that he was, Yeats might well have recognized the inevitability of such an art in an era in which aristocracy and peasantry/proletariat were pushed to history's margins and the sensibility of the self-absorbed upper middle classes emerged triumphant -- at least in the West.
ENTERTAINMENT
December 5, 2007 | Tim Rutten, Times Staff Writer
Fans of the indomitable Horace Rumpole and his redoubtable creator, John Mortimer, may rejoice. At nearly 84, Mortimer has produced in "Rumpole Misbehaves" one of the best of the 16 story collections and novels centering on the crafty old barrister and self-described proud "Old Bailey hack."
ENTERTAINMENT
March 22, 2006 | Tim Rutten, Times Staff Writer
IS there anything worse than being the object of someone's good intentions? The warmly inchoate impulse to "do a little good" bears about as much resemblance to that self-consuming virtue we call charity as soft porn does to passion. In both cases, the former is, irritatingly, all around us; the latter, sadly, in rather short supply. In "Quite Honestly: A Novel," the astonishingly prolific English writer and playwright John Mortimer means to have a little pointed fun with that fact.
ENTERTAINMENT
March 6, 2005 | Susan King
British actress Emily Mortimer always keeps audiences guessing by making certain she doesn't repeat herself onscreen. In the last few years, she's brought to life such diverse characters as an insecure struggling actress in the 2002 comedy drama "Lovely & Amazing," for which she won an Independent Spirit Award, and a hedonistic British society girl from the 1920s in "Bright Young Things."
ENTERTAINMENT
November 20, 2004 | Merle Rubin, Special to The Times
For years now, fans of the redoubtable British barrister Horace Rumpole have heard him make references to the groundbreaking murder trial that first put him on the map. Now, at long last, his creator, John Mortimer, has seen fit in "Rumpole and the Penge Bungalow Murders" to disclose the full story of the case that not only established Rumpole's reputation but also honed his principles, defined his character and won him the regard of his future wife, Hilda, a.k.a. "She Who Must Be Obeyed."
ENTERTAINMENT
December 15, 2003 | Merle Rubin, Special to The Times
THE British barrister, like the American trial lawyer, may often be something of a dramatist, combining the roles of playwright, actor and director in planning and presenting a case before the audience of judge and jury. John Mortimer, a prominent member of the British bar (he argued for the defense in the "Lady Chatterley's Lover" case), has also distinguished himself as a writer and dramatist.
ENTERTAINMENT
June 23, 2002 | KEVIN MAYNARD
Emily Mortimer is making a mental checklist of her anatomical shortcomings. "Knock-kneed, one eye's smaller than the other," she says. "My teeth are a bit yellow, nose is a bit big, flat hair, thin." Not that the 30-year-old Oxford graduate suffers from a bad self-image, it's just that for her latest role as a neurotic Angeleno actress in Nicole Holofcener's "Lovely & Amazing," she had to put any normal, working actor's sense of vanity on the line.
NEWS
November 26, 1995 | JONATHAN KIRSCH, SPECIAL TO THE TIMES
"The Rumpole man" is how John Mortimer is addressed by an amiable but slightly bloodthirsty fellow who shows up in "Murderers and Other Friends," the second volume of Mortimer's autobiography--and, of course, that's exactly how Mortimer is likely to be remembered. But Mortimer, author of the beloved "Rumpole of the Bailey" series, is something more than a refined British counterpart to our Grisham or Turow.
NEWS
March 5, 1999 | MICHAEL FRANK, SPECIAL TO THE TIMES
With "The Sound of Trumpets," John Mortimer presents his third installment in "The Rapstone Chronicles," his continuing comedy of manners set against the world of English politics and country life. As in "Titmuss Regained" and "Paradise Postponed," center stage is occupied by the conniving villain, or anti-hero, Leslie Titmuss, now Lord Titmuss, who was "ennobled with Mrs. Thatcher's last gasp of authority" but--like the iron lady and her Tory party--has fallen from power and in popularity.
NEWS
November 26, 1995 | JONATHAN KIRSCH, SPECIAL TO THE TIMES
"The Rumpole man" is how John Mortimer is addressed by an amiable but slightly bloodthirsty fellow who shows up in "Murderers and Other Friends," the second volume of Mortimer's autobiography--and, of course, that's exactly how Mortimer is likely to be remembered. But Mortimer, author of the beloved "Rumpole of the Bailey" series, is something more than a refined British counterpart to our Grisham or Turow.
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