Penelope Mortimer

The Pumpkin Eater
  • The Pumpkin Eater

  • 'Peter, Peter, Pumpkin eater
    Had a wife and couldn't keep her...'

    In this extraordinary, semi-autobiographical novel, Penelope Mortimer depicts a married woman's breakdown in 1960s London. With three husbands in her past, one in her present and a numberless army of children, Mrs Armitage is astonished to find herself collapsing one day in Harrods. Strange, unsettling and shot through with black comedy, this is a moving account of one woman's realisation that marriage and family life may not, after all, offer all the answers to the problems of living.

Penelope Mortimer was born in 1918 in Rhyl. At nineteen, she married a Reuters correspondent and had two daughters with him, as well as two more from other relationships. Her first novel, Johanna, was published in 1947. She re-married two years later, to John Mortimer, the barrister and author of the Rumpole novels; they had two children together and later divorced. Mortimer wrote many books, including The Pumpkin Eater (1962), which was adapted for the screen by Harold Pinter and made into a film starring Anne Bancroft and Peter Finch. Penelope Mortimer died in 1999.