Rumpole’s Creator Rests in Peace

Literary fountainhead John Mortimer, who passed away January 19, received a fascinating tribute in The Guardian. Barrister, playwright and novelist, Mortimer’s best known fiction chronicles the law practice of Horace Rumpole. (Leo McKern, the most memorable Number 2 in The Prisoner, took that role in the television series.)

Mortimer wanted a career in theater, but his father steered him into law. He ended up thriving in both fields:

Soon he discovered a real talent for divorcing people (in those barbaric, fault-finding days before divorce reform), and for the arcane Chancery world in which time and talent is expended in deciding the validity of a will written on a duck egg, or the charitable status of a legacy to Trappist nuns.

The Guardian argues that Rumpole was the attorney that Mortimer was too timid to become. That’s quite a curious thing to read following a description of Mortimer’s dramatic real-life battles to extend freedom of speech protections in Britain.

[Thanks to John Mansfield for the link.]