Peter Mortimer

Peter Mortimer outside 'the Iron House'

Peter Mortimer welcoming visitors at the new IRON Press gate.
Gate made by John Charlton.Original logo design by Geoff Laws.
Photo by Dylan Mortimer

Peter Mortimer - poet, playwright, journalist, publisher - has lived in the North East for more than forty years, and many of his books and plays have been published and performed here. He is used to writing about difficult places: against Foreign Office advice he wandered round Yemen; he set up a children's theatre group in a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon and, over one summer, walked the length of Britain with one dog and no money, dependent on the kindness of strangers to provide accommodation and food.

Peter Mortimer is founder and editor of IRON Press, the independent press which has championed new quality writing since 1973. In May 2013 IRON celebrated its 40th birthday with the IRON Age Festival, based in its home village of Cullercoats. In April 2014, the IRON Age won the award for Best Event Tyneside at the esteemed Journal Culture Awards 2013. In 2015 they gave in to popular demand and staged a second festival, Eclectic IRON.

Peter Mortimer's books include: The Last of the Hunters: Life with the Fishermen in North Shields; I Married the Angel of the North (poetry); Off the Wall: the Journey of a Play; and Cool for Qat, which grew out of his commission to write a play about the 1930 Yemeni seamen's riot in South Shields; and Camp Shatila - a Writer's Chronicle, which grew from the two months towards the end of 2008, when he lived in Shatila Refugee Camp, Beirut.

Hail the Bike

Peter Mortimer was special guest at the launch of the Active Travel Network, held during Cycle City Active City in Newcastle in June 2015. During the event he gave a talk at the Great North Museum Hancock Museum which the organisers describe as a veritavble "ode to the bicycle". You can now read 'Hail the Bike' online.

Death at Dawn

The Cloud Nine premier production of Peter Mortimer's World War One play, Death at Dawn, in September 2014 was been shortlisted for not one, not two, but three separate awards in The Journal Culture Awards. At the awards ceremony on Tuesday June 30th at Sunderland Minster, actor Heather Carroll - who tackles three roles in the play - won the Newcomer of the Year award. Author Peter Mortimer was among a shortlist of three for Writer of the Year, and the play is also nominated in Performance of the Year category. Death at Dawn has already won British Theatre Guide's regional award for Best Direction.

Poster for 'Death at Dawn': You can order men to kill... you cannot order them to love

Death at Dawn is based on a real case, that of the young North Shields soldier William Hunter who was court-martialled and executed in France in 1916 for desertion. More than 300 soldiers were shot at dawn by the British Army in the Great War but Hunter's case is unusual because sentence was carried out even though the authorities believed at the time that he had signed on under-age. In almost every other similar case, the death sentence was reprieved. For reasons unknown, the sentence on Hunter was carried out. The play examines possible reasons and also explores the realities behind a policy that saw the army shoot its own men.

It is due to be restaged in February 2016, firstly at the Memorial Hall in Wallsend, followed by several performances in the Great Hall of The Discovery Museum, Newcastle. More details soon.

Death at Dawn has now been published by Red Squirrel Press: read more about the book and the play.

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Last update: 14th September 2015