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BBC TwoNewsnight Review
Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 November 2005, 16:00 GMT
Sir John Mortimer
Sir John Mortimer

Sir John Mortimer, born in April 1923, is a playwright, novelist and QC who spent many years as a practising barrister.

During the war he worked for the Crown Film Unit and published a number of novels before turning to the theatre with plays that included the highly successful A VOYAGE ROUND MY FATHER (1970), later adapted for television and which won him the BAFTA Writers Award.

He has written many film and television scripts, and radio and television plays including the adaptation of BRIDESHEAD REVISITED for Granada TV, and most recently a play about Byron for Radio 4.

He also wrote the screenplay for TEA WITH MUSSOLINI, which starred Maggie Smith and was based on Franco Zeffirelli's memoirs.

His books include the 14 collections of stories of RUMPOLE OF THE BAILEY, all published by Penguin and turned into a highly successful and long-running television series.

His acclaimed biography, CLINGING TO THE WRECKAGE, won the Yorkshire Post Book of the Year Award in 1982 and sold 325,000 copies in Penguin paperback.

His second and third volumes of autobiography, MURDERERS AND OTHER FRIENDS (1995) and THE SUMMER OF A DORMOUSE (2000), are both available in Penguin paperback.

John is also a prolific writer of fiction, and his novels include the best-selling trilogy of political novels, PARADISE POSTPONED (1988), TITMUSS REGAINED (1991) and THE SOUND OF TRUMPETS (1998).

Sir John was Chairman of the Royal Court Theatre for many years, was President of the Howard League for Penal Reform and served for many years on the National Theatre Board.

He was knighted in 1998, and in 2005 won the Lifetime Achievement Award at the British Book Awards.

His latest works are Rumpole and the Reign of Terror and Quite Honestly.

His autobiographical play A Voyage Round My Father is enjoying a successful revival in London.


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