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Remembering John Mortimer

The celebrated author of Rumpole of the Bailey has died at the age of 85, after packing more into one life than most men would manage in three

By Colin Murphy   January 2009

“I’ve got a bouncy Jesus somewhere,” said John Mortimer. He sat at a writing desk cluttered with little plastic figurines: Shakespeare, Freud, and numerous Jesuses. His eyes sparkled behind inch-thick glasses, and he slumped a little in his chair.

It was the early summer of 2005, and I had travelled from Dublin to interview him at his home in the Chilterns. It had been an early flight: his “best times” were in the morning, he later explained, when he would sit at his desk and write, a thousand words a day. In the afternoons, he would get melancholy, and in…

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