Penelope Mortimer (1918–1999) was born Penelope Ruth Fletcher in North Wales, the younger of two children of an Anglican clergyman father and his wife. The family moved often, and Penelope was educated at half a dozen institutions before spending a year at the University of London. In 1937 she married the journalist Charles Dimont, with whom she had two daughters. Two more daughters by two different men would follow before, in 1949, she divorced Dimont and married the barrister, novelist, and playwright John Mortimer, with whom she had another daughter and her only son. The Mortimers were celebrated as “the last word in marital chic,” but the marriage was tumultuous and the couple divorced in 1972. In addition to The Pumpkin Eater (1962), made into a 1964 film from a screenplay by Harold Pinter and starring Anne Bancroft and Peter Finch, Mortimer published several other novels, including Daddy’s Gone A-Hunting (1958), Long Distance (1974), and The Handyman (1983); a travel book co-authored with John Mortimer, With Love and Lizards (1957); and a biography of the Queen Mother. She also served as a film critic for the London Observer and was a regular contributor of short stories to The New Yorker. The first volume of her autobiography About Time (1979) was awarded the Whitbread Prize and was followed by About Time Too (1993).
An exquisitely surreal black comedy about marriage, motherhood, and the madness of modern life. “(Mortimer) is the family historian of the smart, go ahead, two-car household which has a double load of private misery packed in each boot.” —Robert Pitman, Sunday Express