Essay Writer


Will Shakespeare

London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1977

8vo, pp. 256. Original light brown boards, lettered in gilt to spine. Illustrated dustwrapper.

First edition, INSCRIBED BY THE AUTHOR TO LEO McKERN: 'To Leo, with many thanks for such a wonderful 'Rumpole', John Mortimer, Henley on Thames, May 77'. Presented by the author after McKern's appearance as Rumpole in a BBC TV Play for Today, the success of which led to the long-running series Rumpole of the Bailey.

Between 1978 and 1992, John Mortimer and Leo McKern collaborated on seven series of the television show Rumpole of the Bailey, adapted by Mortimer from his own books, and starring McKern in the title role. Although the show was a huge success, relations between its star and writer were often strained. McKern was frequently troubled by the growing realisation that he was going to be remembered for playing Rumpole on ITV rather than Iago at the RSC; Mortimer, while grateful to McKern for Rumpole's success, knew his star felt this way, and was understandably displeased. Despite the underlying tensions, relations between the two men were cordial.

They began cordially too, as this volume shows. Mortimer was greatly impressed by McKern's performance in the Play for Today, and negotiations with the BBC for a series began immediately. When for reasons best known to themselves the BBC decided against commissioning the show, Thames TV was only too happy to step in. Rumpole of the Bailey ran on ITV for fourteen years.

A wonderful association, marking the very beginning of a wonderful association.

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