Penelope Mortimer

Penelope Mortimer (Penelope Ruth Mortimer, née Fletcher, 19 September 1918 – 19 October 1999) was a Welsh writer.

She learned secretarial skills at the Central Educational Bureau for Women, and later attended the University of London. After the publication of her first novel, in 1947, she began working as a freelance journalist for The New Yorker, and later also worked as a film critic for the Observer.

Mortimer married the Reuters correspondent Charles Dimont, in 1937, and they had two daughters. Later, she had two daughters through extra-marital relationships. In 1949, after divorcing Dimont, Penelope married the barrister and writer John Mortimer, with whom she had a daughter and a son. She suffered from depression throughout her life, and, under her husband’s pressure, underwent a forced abortion and sterilization in 1961. They divorced in 1971. Throughout the 1970s, Penelope lectured at The New School and Boston University.

She died from cancer in 1999.



  • Johanna (1947, as Penelope Dimont)
  • A Villa in Summer (1954)
  • The Bright Prison (1956)
  • Daddy’s Gone A-Hunting (1958)
  • The Pumpkin Eater (1962)
  • My Friend Says It’s Bulletproof (1968)
  • The Home (1971)
  • Long Distance (1974)
  • The Handyman (1983)

Short stories

  • Saturday Lunch with the Brownings (1977)


  • With Love and Lizards (1957, travel writing, co-authored with John Mortimer)
  • Bunny Lake Is Missing (1965, screenplay)
  • About Time: An Aspect of Autobiography (1979, autobiography)
  • Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother (1986, biography, revised edition 1995)
  • About Time Too: 1940–78 (1993, autobiography)

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