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Rumpole of the Bailey

(Rumpole of the Bailey #1)

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  2,974 ratings  ·  182 reviews
Rumpole of the Bailey is a British television series created and written by the British writer and barrister John Mortimer. It stars Leo McKern as Horace Rumpole, an ageing London barrister who defends any and all clients. The original show has been spun off into a series of short stories, novels, and radio programmes.

“Rumpole and the Younger Generation”;
Paperback, 208 pages
Published February 28th 1980 by Penguin Books (first published January 1st 1978)
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Average rating 4.11  · 
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Jason Koivu
Nov 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, fiction, humor
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
Deb Jones
Jul 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I hadn't realized this series of Rumpole books came secondary to a TV program. I swear the Brits get all the good shows!

Rumpole is a seasoned barrister, 67 years-of-age, as he decides to write a memoir of his career. Voila! We have this short story collection that provides a sampling of the cases Rumpole has participated in through the years. In addition, the reader is treated to peeks into Rumpole's home life -- the place where he feels he works the hardest and escapes to work each day to feel
Graham Powell
Aug 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
In these strange and uncertain times, I'm finding it hard to concentrate on new reading material. I'm seeking comfort by returning to reliable old favorites, which must include the stories of "the old Bailey hack," Horace Rumpole.
Sep 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
I had no idea how fun these stories that are kinda a novel would be. Every time I saw the name I imagined they were some kind of really old timey court room stories. But they're witty and amusing and rather charming.
Dec 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I used to enjoy the television series with Leo McKern as Horace Rumpole back in the 1970s. Needless to say the book is very much in the same vein, with Rumpole defending a series of low life criminal types and indulging in plenty of wit and repartee whilst in court.

The only other book I've read by John Mortimer is Clinging to the Wreckage which is the first part of his autobiography. I loved it and mean to read the other three volumes. Click here to read my review

Rumpole of the Bailey (1978) con
DeAnna Knippling
Sep 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
A wily, ignoble lawyer for the defense takes on a number of cases in this book of short stories based on a TV show.

Okay, imagine John Cleese of Monty Python fame as a defense lawyer. Seedy, mouthy, and deadly efficient. Now imagine the woman who played his wife on Fawlty Towers as his wife here. That's pretty much it. The writing isn't as brilliant as Fawlty Towers, the stories are more grounded in logic, and the characters are less acerbic. But I'm not wrong. Entertainingly cynical. Enjoyed bu
Dec 16, 2007 rated it it was ok
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
Jammin Jenny
I would have given this 3 1/2 stars if I were able. It was a humorous telling of various stories of Rumpole who is a lawyer/barrister in England. He goes about helping people in a rather humorous way. I enjoyed it but was not enthralled by it. I did chuckle a few times.
Apr 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Pamela Shropshire
Jan 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
I read some of the Rumpole books many years ago and I was delighted when I found several at my favorite UBS last week. I found that I enjoyed them every bit as much as before, plus now that I’m in the legal field myself, I “got” more of the jokes.

Mortimer has created a wonderful character in Rumpole: a terrific sarcastic wit; irreverent and unconventional; quotes poetry in an ironic manner; negligent in his dress; doesn’t take himself or life too seriously. And yet, Rumpole is scrupulously seri
Graham Wilhauk
Feb 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was a blast!

This book was a collection of six stories and while not all of them stuck with me, none of them felt pointless. Even then, there were only two stories that fell kind of flat for me. I LOVED the other four. Horace Rumpole seems to be creeping up there in my heart as a new favorite character in mystery (watch out Sherlock and Poirot). I will definitely be reading more Rumpole in the near future!

I am giving this one a 4 out of 5 stars.
Laurel Hicks
Jun 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
He grows on one, even on She Who Must Be Obeyed.
May 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Bless this crusty old darling counsel for the defense & his sassy adventures. ...more
Rumple may be my favorite old grouch.
Jim Becker
Mar 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Just funny. I listened to the stories in the book while out running. The miles just flow by without me being aware of them. Ahhhh...
Nov 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Rating for this audiobook edition, 4★ for the book itself.

About the book:
These vignettes hover between crime and humor. Rumpole is much more concerned with getting a favorable verdict than he is in finding or knowing the truth, yet in his somewhat bumbling way he does manage to figure out the rights of things.

I had forgotten how much Rumpole and Erskine-Brown opposed each other. E-B really is a toad in the book. I was first exposed to Rumpole through the BBC/PBS TV series and they must have ton
Kathryn Ness
Mar 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
May 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, 2019-read, aubk, humor
Well, This was truly interesting. Since I couldn't get these audiobooks in order, this was about my fifth collection in a few weeks.
Somewhere I think I saw that this is number one in the series. John Mortimer surely got off to a bold start. The rape case story told me a lot about the author. I won't say more, because I think that each person should listen, or read, and come to a thoughtful conclusion. I had to stop and think for a while about this one.

The others were more strident that the oth
Feb 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
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. "
May 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...
Apr 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Fantastically funny with great characters.
Rumpole books are like comfort food. I love the dry humour and pragmatism. Rumpole is a fabulous creation and the story lines are satisfying.
Nov 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Good British humor! Rumpole is sarcastic and fun to read.
Jun 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I love Rumpole. I read all the books starting approximately 29 years ago. Just as good now.
Dec 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Years ago I used to watch Rumpole on TV, with Leo McKern. McKern so embodied the character that it's difficult to imagine anyone else doing the part. The audio version I've just been listening to is narrated, however, by Robert Hardy, who though he does it wonderfully, is never quite as I remember McKern. He brings his own classiness to it, and does the mix of voices superbly - except that occasionally the goes into a mutter or a whisper, and it's very difficult to pick up the words, especially ...more
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John Clifford Mortimer was 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.


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

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