John Mortimer, British Writer of "Rumpole," "Brideshead," Voyage, Dead at 85

Obituaries   John Mortimer, British Writer of "Rumpole," "Brideshead," Voyage, Dead at 85
Lawyer and writer John Mortimer, creator of TV's "Rumpole of the Bailey," and a playwright whose works were seen on the West End and Broadway, died Jan. 16 at the age of 85, according to published reports.

Mortimer died at his home near Henley, Buckinghamshire, in the company of his second wife, Penny, and daughters Emily and Rosie.

Mr. Mortimer was a barrister whose work helped end the Lord Chamberlain's censorship of stage productions with the 1968 Theatres Act. His beloved barrister character, Rumpole, first emerged in 1975 as a BBC "Play For Today," and was expanded in a series of novels and a hit ITV television series starring Leo McKern.

Mr. Mortimer's autobiographical 1963 play A Voyage Round My Father was staged in 2006 by the Donmar Warehouse. First written as a radio play, it charted his relationship with his blind barrister father.

Mr. Mortimer was the adaptor-screenwriter of the internationally famous 1981 TV series "Brideshead Revisited," from the novel by Evelyn Waugh. He also penned the film "Tea With Mussolini."

His Legal Fictions, a double bill comprising his first play The Dock Brief and Edwin, played at the Savoy Theatre on the West End in early 2008. His one Broadway credit was a 1992 translation of the Georges Feydeau farce A Little Hotel on the Side, for the National Actors Theatre.

Mr. Mortimer spent a decade as chairman of the board of the Royal Court, and another decade as its president. He received a knighthood in 1998.

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