Rumpole of the Bailey creator John Mortimer, 85, died this morning following a prolonged illness. His family said in a statement that they were by his side when he passed away.Sarah Weinman notes that “The news comes just a day after the Strand Magazine announced Mortimer was the recipient of the first Strand Critics Lifetime Achievement Award. ‘I feel honoured to be chosen to receive this Lifetime Achievement Award on behalf of Horace Rumpole,’ Mortimer said in a statement Wednesday. “He is, of course, a truly British character and I am delighted that he has come to be appreciated so much by his American cousins.’”
Mortimer, who lived in what was formerly his father’s house in the Chilterns, had been in a London hospital until a few days before Christmas before coming home, after which his condition deteriorated, said Tony Lacey, Mortimer’s editor at Penguin. ...
The author--who would start writing at around 5am, regularly having a glass of champagne first thing in the morning--said that “No one should grow old who isn’t ready to appear ridiculous”. “Dying,” he opined, "”is a matter of slapstick and prat falls”.
“Even though he was so ill, there was still a great sense of shock when I learned of his death--at some level he seemed indestructible. He was always fantastically upbeat and funny, full of stories--but there was a measure of self-doubt there, underneath all the charm and confidence, about his literary status and how he would finally be seen,” Tony Lacey, his editor of many years at Penguin books said. “He was forever asking ‘how am I doing? Is it time for me to give up?’”
No doubt about that.
READ MORE: “Sir John Mortimer, R.I.P.,” by Martin Edwards (Do You Write Under Your Own Name?); “Rumpole’s Creator Mortimer Dies” (BBC News); “John Mortimer, Barrister and Writer Who Created Rumpole, Dies at 85,” by Helen T. Verongos (The New York Times).