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Rumpole of the Bailey (Rumpole of the Bailey #1)

4.1 of 5 stars 4.10  ·  rating details  ·  1,515 ratings  ·  73 reviews
Rumpole of the Bailey, by Mortimer, John
Paperback, 208 pages
Published February 28th 1980 by Penguin Books (first published 1978)
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Jason Koivu
Rumpole of the Bailey is former barrister (lawyer) John Mortimer's first crack at fictionalizing his former life. His hero, Horace Rumpole, toils down at London's Old Bailey defending morally tarnished persons, who usually didn't "do it" least not this time around.

This is a batch of humor to lighten the soul with a sprinkle of pathos for real world problems. Mortimer writes in a breezy, almost Wodehousian way, substituting the care-free, silly bachelor for a more curmudgeonly, sly near-ret
Graham Powell
This was my first Rumpole book, and I have to say I'm going back for more. RUMPOLE OF THE BAILEY is a set of linked short stories, cataloging six of barrister Horace Rumpole's cases. The exact details are not particularly important, it's the tone and the style which carry the day. First of all, these stories are extremely funny, funny in that scathing British way. But they're also more than that - there is a strong vein of social criticism running through them, and in many of them a feeling of g ...more
This is a collection of short stories about an English lawyer named Horace Rumpole. His "speciality" is defending criminals, and his colleagues often give him a hard time about his refusal to take any other types of cases. He refers to his wife as "She Who Must Be Obeyed" and seems to rather dislike his home life.

I had a hard time with the humor in this collection. Some of it was chuckle-worthy, but mostly I found myself groaning or rolling my eyes. The “She Who Must Be Obeyed” line was cute th
This was the book that started it all, that introduced Rumpole and many of the regular cast of characters (although over the years more characters were added and some left the series), including his wife, Hilda (better known as She Who Must Be Obeyed, or sometimes just referred to as She), the hapless Claude Erskine Brown, Guthrie Featherstone, Phillida Trant (later to become Phillida Erskine-Brown), Old Tom, and the infamous Timson Family (a wide ranging group of not very competent criminals wh ...more
Kathryn Ness
Oh, my old friend, Rumpole! How I love him and all the delightful characters so well portrayed by Mortimer. I adore Rumpole's recitation of poetry for all situations, his kindheartedness to his petty and often scheming colleagues and his brilliant defense of all the Timson family. Hilda, or "She Who Must Be Obeyed" is his long-suffering and ambitious wife who is often disgusted by Rumpole's antics and lack of career ambition. I always wonder if Rumpole and Hilda love each other or are they just ...more
Applies to all of the Rumpole Series' Books:

How do you describe Horace Rumpole? A funny, drunk portly old British barrister, wed to She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, and all that ensues in following along in his endless travails.

I stumbled on this series at the recommendation of my friend Liz years ago and devoured every book in it that same week.

Many are out of print now; go to your local library and get your Rumpole fix that way - well worth it!
Rumpole is a great great character and his stories are always full of wit and gentle humour. Rumpole cares deeply about justice and has a true understanding of the importance of a fair trial. Yet he hides his passion under a gruff exterior. John Mortimer created in Rumpole a lawyer who constantly reminds us why our legal system must never be undermined.

Whenever I feel down I turn to Rumpole.
Funny. Charming. And the legal stuff is insightful and done with an extremely light touch. This is the first of 15 story collections or full-length novels. I will be reading more of these ...
As one reviewer once said, "Rumpole is hilarious brain candy". After reading this collection of stories and chuckling aloud you will probably nod your head in agreement.
Kara Ripley
Fantastically funny with great characters.
Debbie Maskus
This is a collection of short stories dealing with Rumpole and his clients. Of course, Hilda or She Who Must Be Obeyed, is a constant presence. The biggest problem is the English vernacular opposed to American slang. I decided the watch several of the stories that were presented as a series on BBC. Many of the nuances that are missed in the book are depicted on the screen. The humor is not the slapstick humor of I Love Lucy, but more like the Kramdens of the Honeymooners. The British court syste ...more
RUMPOLE OF THE BAILEY (Legal-Horace Rumpole-England-Cont) – Good
Mortimer, John – Short Stories
Penguin Books, 1978, UK Paperback – ISBN: 0140046704

First Sentence: I, Horace Rumpole, barrister at law, 68 next birthday, Old Bailey Hack, husband to Mrs. Hilda Rumpole (known to me only as She Who Must Be Obeyed) and father to Nicholas Rumpole (lecturer in social studies at the University of Baltimore, I have always been extremely proud of Nick); I, who have a mind full of old murders, legal anecdotes
Jul 28, 2008 Elaine rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone--but you do have to have a brain
Any Rumpole book is funny, sad, very well written, and just plain GOOD. Even the videos are great. Good doesn't always prevail. The bad guys are often hard to spot. The main characters are horribly flawed, but you really care about them. I read these books over and over because even if you know how they end, they're still good. Oh, I forgot to mention that they're all short stories linked together with Horace Rumpole, a lawyer in England, his wife, Hilda (he calls her "She Who Must Be Obeyed"), ...more
Having seen, many years ago, the excellent TV series of this book I found that the character of Harold Rumpole, as played by Leo McKern, was so well characterised that I could see Leo McKern in every paragraph. Rumpole is a crusty old barrister (UK equivalent of attorney) whose passion is defending those charged with murder or other crimes and as such is looked down on by his colleagues who favour tax and divorce cases. Rumpole is crafty, has a rich experience of all things legal and has a wonde ...more
Mark Junk
The book was slower moving than I expected but all the stories were solid. I recommend this book if you are fans of lawyer stories or the BBC. This book must be read with a British accent in your head :-)
Srinivas Prasad Veeraraghavan
Horace Rumpole (Old Bailey hack) is THE MOST BRITISH of all the Brit characters I've had the pleasure of reading. That wit drier than the Thar desert, those delightful idosyncracies and that trademark Bulldog Churchillian tenacity......Rumpole is the consummate Brit and you'll be hard-pressed to suppress a chuckle of two. Can't ask for a better companion especially if you feel a tad under the weather.

And of course, Rowling borrowed "He who must not be named" from here. That's reason enough to tu
Harlan Wolff
A wonderful character is Horace Rumpole. He slips into Pomeroy's Wine Bar for a few glasses of 'Chateau Thames Embankment' claret on his way home to She Who Must Be Obeyed having saved the world from the injustices of the Old Bailey justices whilst puffing on a cheroot. A book that pats you on the head and says everything will be alright and Horace Rumpole, a most unlikely hero, will find the path to fair play and defeat all bigotry and lies. Yes, Horace Rumpole is a fictional character, but it' ...more
I picked this up and read it in one day, it's a delightful collection of 'autobiographical' tales narrated by Horace Rumpole, a tired and cynical barrister looking back over his years in the profession.
The humour is very British, I don't think anyone not British would like this very much. I remember the TV series with Leo McKern and reading these short stories brought it back to life. The police sergeant disguised as a dirty pot-smoking hippy still makes me giggle.
Pamela Mclaren
I never had a chance to watch the amazing PBS series (and I know, I can probably buy the thing now!), so when I found this three-book series of the Rumpole stories, I snatched them up quickly — and was not disappointed. Anyone can write about a smart, sharply dressed lawyer but it takes talent to come up with a character like Rumpole and make you love reading about him.
I loved this book! Being married to an atty for the past 20 years and have heard some intertaining tails some that ended well and some not so well, this book told stories of ole baily and interjected humor, a delightful old crusty barrister with tricks up his sleeve.
A nice read, although it's impossible to envision Rumpole any differently than as portrayed in the Mystery! series.

Short stories joined together by a loose thread of details. Very nicely done.

I regret not picking up a few other volumes at the thrift store.
Not much point to this, really -- just reworkings of the TV episodes, which are much more entertaining by themselves.
Claire Noonan
I need to read all the Rumpole stories now, then watch the series... pretty good stuff
Vikas Datta
Brilliant... re-read after years but found them as engrossing as ever
I LOVE Rumpole! No better reading for the summertime.
Four stars foe every Rumpole book!
I heart Rumpole.
I'm not sure what I expected from this book. Apart from having vaguely heard of Rumpole, I had few preconceived notions about the character. But whatever notions I had, they were nowhere close to what this novel actually was. To begin with, I'm not crazy about story collections, which is what Rumpole of the Bailey is, and although I found the stories entertaining, I would have preferred one coherent narrative. And if I had known that the TV series came first, and this novel was merely a retellin ...more
John Mortimer's writing style has something in common (improbably) with Homer: he employs repeating "refrains" that entrench in the mind of the reader the attributes of his main character, Horace Rumpole.

As Rumpole is wont to inform us at least once in every story, he likes his small cigar, he is a slave to "She Who Must be Obeyed," he holds his mentor, Wordsworth ("the Old Sheep of the Lake District) very close at all times, the better to quote him at odd moments, and probably most central to u
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Jan2008 3 6 Mar 09, 2009 11:28PM  
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John Clifford Mortimer is a novelist, playwright and former practising barrister. Among his many publications are several volumes of Rumpole stories and a trilogy of political novels, Paradise Postponed, Titmuss Regained and The Sound of Trumpets, featuring Leslie Titmuss - a character as brilliant as Rumpole.

John Mortimer received a knighthood for his services to the arts in 1998.

More about John Mortimer...

Other Books in the Series

Rumpole of the Bailey (1 - 10 of 16 books)
  • The Trials of Rumpole
  • Rumpole's Return
  • Rumpole for the Defence
  • Rumpole and the Golden Thread
  • Rumpole's Last Case
  • Rumpole and the Age of Miracles (Rumpole)
  • Rumpole à la Carte
  • Rumpole on Trial
  • Rumpole and the Angel of Death
  • Rumpole Rests His Case
The First Rumpole Omnibus Rumpole and the Penge Bungalow Murders Rumpole Rests His Case Rumpole and the Reign of Terror Rumpole Misbehaves

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