John Mortimer …

John Mortimer  (1923-2009)


John Mortimer was an English barrister, dramatist, screenwriter, and author. He is best remembered for creating a barrister named Horace Rumpole, inspired by his father Clifford, whose speciality is defending those accused of crime in London’s Old Bailey.


Horace Rumpole

In 2007, aged 84, he was a featured author in the Guardian’s Writers Rooms series in which he spoke about his daily routine.


“I live in a house in the Chiltern Hills that my father built when I was nine, and the room in which I write is converted from his garage. It’s the only room from which I can’t look at the garden and be distracted. I’ve worked here ever since we came back to live in the house after my mother died about 20 years ago. I wrote the whole of Paradise Postponed here, and numerous Rumpole novels, scripts, plays and articles.

I write with a pen on long sheets of paper. I’ve never learnt how to type. I try to write as early as possible in the morning, and aim to write 1,000 words a day. I stop at lunchtime, have a drink and then fall asleep. When you know what you are doing, it is good. But at the times when you don’t know, it is very difficult. What I do then is – I just write something. Keep writing. At the moment I am finding it very difficult but I have got a book I have got to finish.”


During his days as a criminal barrister it was more difficult for him to find the time to write. In a 1998 interview with the Paris Review he mentioned this.

“It was very difficult. I used to get up very early in the morning, and when I became Queen’s Counsel, a criminal lawyer, it was much easier because I would do a big case, then have a gap, then do another big case. And by the end I was only doing about five cases a year.”


2 responses to “John Mortimer …

  1. It’s amazing how many writers like to start work very early in the morning. It is a nice time of day to write. John Mortimer is a very interesting chap indeed.

  2. Ian Fleming wrote from 9-12 and then from 5-6.30. Dahl from 10-12 and 4-6.
    I can write anytime in 2 hour spurts but building up the discipline is so hard.
    That and finding the energy. 😃🐘🐘🐘

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