Novelist, playwright and barrister John Mortimer has led an extraordinarily rich life, privately and professionally, much of it in the public eye. His own writings, from the play A Voyage Round My Father to the memoirs Clinging to the Wreckage and Murderers and Other Friends, have given his many fans plenty of insights. But now for the first time a biographer has had full access to Mortimer, his circle of friends and colleagues, and their diaries and letters. The result is a riveting account of the life of one of the great figures of our time. A Voyage Round John Mortimer is revealing of many aspects of Mortimer's legal and literary career, from his first attempts at writing novels and the early help he offered his barrister father through to the great triumphs of Rumpole and the Oztrial.
According to London Times reporter Grove (The Compleat Woman), the creator of the loud and lovable fictional barrister Rumpole and the screenwriter for the television adaptation of Brideshead Revisited is himself a flamboyant barrister, prolific writer and compulsive womanizer. John Mortimer's complex personal life includes expulsion from Oxford for suspected homosexuality; courtship of his first wife, Penelope, when she was married and impregnating his second wife while still married to Penelope. His father, Clifford, a brilliant lawyer who eventually went blind, was the major influence on Mortimer's life, and he dramatized him repeatedly, most notably as Rumpole and in his play A Voyage Round My Father. An indefatigable barrister, Mortimer handled landmark obscenity cases as a Queen's Counsel. His friends and collaborators include Stoppard, Pinter and Olivier, and he rolled along in his wheelchair at Prince Charles's wedding to Camilla. Although lively, intelligent and remarkably frank for an authorized biography, Grove's latest will likely not create much of a stir in America, where Mortimer isn't a household name. Photos not seen by PW.