John Mortimer's life celebrated at Southwark Cathedral
18th November 2009
Family and friends of the late Rumpole of the Bailey author Sir John Mortimer gathered yesterday (November 17th) to celebrate his life.
Sir John's widow Penny and children were joined by actors, politicians and members of the Royal Family at Southwark Cathedral in London to pay tribute to the writer, who died in January at the age of 85.
Former Labour Party leader Lord Kinnock, his wife Baroness Kinnock, business secretary Lord Mandelson, television journalists Jeremy Paxman and Jon Snow, actors Alan Rickman and Jeremy Irons, and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, were among those attending the memorial.
Speaking at the event, Lord Kinnock described the author as 'the magnificent Mortimer' who was a 'valorous champion of the cause of liberty'.
He drew laughs from the congregation by noting Sir John's fondness for self-deprecation, recalling an occasion when he claimed to look like 'a bag of spanners'.
Lord Kinnock also lauded the writer's legal career and said he acted as a 'fierce and relentless combatant' for his clients.
Valerie Grove, the author of A Voyage Round John Mortimer, wrote in the Daily Telegraph that Sir John refused to let old age ruin his life, even to the extent of not visiting a doctor and continuing to work when he broke his leg at the age of 82.