John Mortimer Quotes

Who is John Mortimer?

Sir John Clifford Mortimer was an English barrister, dramatist and author.

Born April 21, 1923
Died January 16, 2009

Books by John Mortimer


Best 32 Quotes by John Mortimer | Page 1 of 2

“A war against terrorism is an impracticable conception if it means fighting terrorism with terrorism.”

“Do we want blanks, asterisks and exclamation marks which people can fill in with their own imaginations, or are we prepared and strong enough to tolerate, even if we do not approve, the strong Anglo-Saxon, realistic and vivid language?”

“Farce is tragedy played at a thousand revolutions per minute.”

“Hell must be a place where you are only allowed to read what you agree with.”

“I don't believe in children's books. I think after you've read Kidnapped, Treasure Island, and Huckleberry Finn, you're ready for anything.”

“I don't think you ever feel a success really because everything could always be done better than you've done it.”

“I found criminal clients easy and matrimonial clients hard. Matrimonial clients hate each other so much and use their children to hurt each other in beastly ways. Murderers have usually killed the one person in the world that was bugging them and they're usually quite peaceful and agreeable.”

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“I refuse to spend my life worrying about what I eat. There is no pleasure worth foregoing just for an extra three years in the geriatric ward.”

“I’d been told of all the things you're meant to feel when your father dies. Sudden freedom, growing up, the end of dependence, the step into the sunlight when no one is taller than you and you're in no one's shadow. I know what I felt. Lonely.”

“Marriage is like pleading guilty to an indefinite sentence. Without parole.”

“Never believe a rumour until you hear it officially denied.”

“No power on earth, however, can abolish the merciless class distinction between those who are physically desirable and the lonely, pallid, spotted, silent, unfancied majority.”

“People will go to endless trouble to divorce one person and then marry someone who is exactly the same, except probably a bit poorer and a bit nastier. I don't think anybody learns anything.”

“The freedom to make a fortune on the stock exchange has been made to sound more alluring than freedom of speech.”

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“The greatest horrors of our world are committed by people who are totally sincere.”

“The main aim of education should be to send children out into the world with a reasonably sized anthology in their heads so that, while seated on the lavatory, waiting in doctors' surgeries, on stationary trains or watching interviews with politicians, they may have something interesting to think about.”

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“It serves me right for putting all my eggs in one b*stard.”

You Might as Well Live


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“The only rule I have found to have any validity in writing is not to bore yourself.”

“The secret of good health and happiness is to have rather small illnesses throughout your life which you can rely on to stop you doing anything you don't want to do.”

“The shelf life of the modern hardback writer is somewhere between the milk and the yoghurt.”

“The worst fault of the working classes is telling their children they're not going to succeed, saying: There is life, but it's not for you.”

“There's more of yourself in a book than a play. that's why we know all about Dickens and not much about Shakespeare. Ben Jonson murdered people; Marlowe was a spy; Shakespeare just sat in the corner and took notes.”

“To escape jury duty in England, wear a bowler hat and carry a copy of the Daily telegraph.”

“We don't know much about the human conscience, except that it is soluble in alcohol.”

“We may not be the creme de la creme, but we are the creme de la scum.”

Clinging to the Wreckage Quotes

“I suppose that writers should, in a way, feel flattered by the censorship laws. They show a primitive fear and dread at the fearful magic of print.”

Clinging to the Wreckage

“There is always time for failure.”

Clinging to the Wreckage

Murderers and Other Friends Quotes

“Like childhood, old age is irresponsible, reckless, and foolhardy. Children and old people have everything to gain and nothing much to lose. It's middle-age which is cursed by the desperate need to cling to some finger-hold halfway up the mountain, to conform, not to cause trouble, to behave well.”

Murderers and Other Friends

On the three pigs he and his wife own Quotes

“We acquired the pigs last year. My wife was born on a pig farm and has always been very fond of pigs. Of course, they are for eating, which is why they are named Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. You wouldn’t want to eat Rufus, Marcus and Esmeralda.”

On the three pigs he and his wife own

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Rumpole and the Penge Bungalow Murders Quotes

“Check-ups are, in my experience, a grave mistake; all they do is allow the quack of your choice to tell you that you have some sort of complaint that you were far happier not knowing about.”

Rumpole and the Penge Bungalow Murders

Rumpole à la Carte Quotes

“I sent out words like soldiers to battle and they never returned.”

Rumpole à la Carte

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“Any fool can paint a picture, but it takes a wise man to be able to sell it.”


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