John Mortimer

Biography of John Mortimer

Sir John Clifford Mortimer (21 April 1923 – 16 January 2009) was a British barrister, dramatist, screenwriter and author.

Mortimer was born in Hampstead, London, the only child of Kathleen May (née Smith) and Clifford Mortimer, a barrister who became blind in 1936, when he banged his head on a tree branch, but still pursued his career. His father's loss of sight was not acknowledged openly by the family.

Mortimer was educated at the Dragon School, Oxford, and Harrow, where he joined the Communist Party forming a one member cell. Originally Mortimer intended to be an actor, his lead role in the Dragon's 1937 production of Richard II, gained glowing reviews in The Draconian, and then a writer, but his father persuaded him against it advising: "My dear boy, have some consideration for your unfortunate wife ... [the law] gets you out of the house."

At seventeen, he went up to Brasenose College, Oxford where he read law, though he was actually based at Christ Church because the Brasenose buildings had been requisitioned for the war effort. In July 1942, at the end of his second year, Mortimer was asked to leave Oxford by the Dean of Christ Church, after letters to a Bradfield sixth-former, Quentin Edwards, later a QC, were discovered by the young man's housemaster.

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