The creator of one of the most memorable mystery characters has passed away. John Mortimer wrote the Rumpole of the Bailey books which have entertained many people for many years. Mortimer passed away on Friday, January 16th (2009). His creation of Horace Rumpole, a Barrister at the Old Bailey in London, is such a uniquely different character.
Horace isn’t a flashy “know it all” type of defense lawyer. If anything, the other lawyers in the office think of him as not very smart, someone who drinks a “little” more than he should, someone with whom they don’t want to chair a case. But for some reason, Horace usually wins his cases. Perhaps because he believes that everyone deserves a second chance, a third chance, a fourth chance… as many chances as it takes before they retire from their lives of crime.
Horace is that type of character. He may not be the smartest in the group, but if he’s on your side, you have a very good chance of getting to go home instead of staying in jail. And all of this is because Horace Rumpole is a cunning barrister who is able to manipulate the system.
As a barrister himself, Mortimer was able to show the reader (and in the case of the television series, the viewer) the petty machinations of a British law office. Fortunately for us, Horace was almost oblivious to the dog-eat-dog environment. He actually seemed to prefer being at the office than going home to “She who must be obeyed.” (his wife Hilda.) Mortimer was able to make us (the readers and/or viewers) like Horace, even though Horace is very flawed.
So, although John Mortimer passed away, Horace Rumpole will live on…