Peter Mortimer is a playwright, poet and editor who has been closely involved with the north-east literary scene since the early 70s. He has written 22 plays which have been performed in the region by the likes of Live Theatre Co, Durham Theatre Co, Theâtre Sans Frontières, Pocket Theatre, Cloud Nine and Dodgy Clutch, as well as on BBC Radio 4. A commission for the Customs House, South Shields, to write a play based around the little-known Yemeni seamen's riots in that town in 1930 led to RIOT first produced in spring 2004 and since revived. The photograph above was taken recently in the Lebanon, where Peter spent three months in Shatila, the refugee camp in Beirut. His book about his experiences there, Camp Shatila - A Writer's Chronicle, was published by Five Leaves Publications to coincide with the visit to Tyneside of ten Palestinian children and their teachers in September 2009.
Peter Mortimer won the 2009 CIC Cultural Diversity Award for the North-East (Arts Category) for his Shatila work. He was shortlisted for the Arab British Culture & Society Award 2010.
He is the founder and artistic director of Cloud Nine Theatre Productions, which was established in 1997 and only commissions new work, only by northern writers, and has thus far produced new plays by eleven dramatists, including Julia Darling, Tom Hadaway, Sean O'Brien, Kitty Fitzgerald, and Steve Chambers. In summer 2004, as part of the Writing on the Wall five-year project (run by Arts UK Ltd) he developed a play which the actors walked along the Roman Wall, performing each night, taking in ten different venues.
Peter Mortimer is also the founder and editor of Iron Press, which since 1973 has brought out a whole range of new poetry, fiction and drama, from this region and elsewhere, and continues annually to publish four or five important new titles.
Mortimer's own poetry has been published by, among others, Flambard and Iron and his latest collection, I Married The Angel of the North came out in 2002 from Five Leaves Press. His children's collection of poems Utter Nonsense, (illustrated by Geoff Laws, Iron Press) is in its seventh edition since first appearing in 1979. Flambard also published his children's fable, Croak, The King & A Change in the Weather (illustrated by Gaynor Devaney).
Peter Mortimer is also the author of three "extreme" books. In 1987, his book The Last of The Hunters, detailing his six months working as a fisherman in the North Sea, was published by North Tyneside Arts & Libraries, and was republished last year by Five Leaves Press. Broke Through Britain - One Man's Penniless Odyssey was published in 1999 by Mainstream and details the author's 540 mile journey from Plymouth to Edinburgh without a penny in his pocket. It is already in its fifth print, and has been serialised world-wide.
It was followed in 2002 by 100 Days on Holy Island - A Writer's Exile (also from Mainstream), which has already gone to a second print. This chronicles one winter spent on the remote island off the Northumbrian coast (also known as Lindisfarne) which is cut off twice daily by the tide.
Mortimer is a former journalist, and for six years was the region's theatre critic for The Guardian. He has also been a satirical columnist for both The Journal and Newcastle Evening Chronicle. Mortimer at Large, a collection of his newspaper columns for the North Tyneside based News Guardian series of papers was published by IRON Press/North Tyneside Libraries in spring 2008.
His book Made in Nottingham (Five Leaves Publications 2012) details his returning to live for one month on the street of his childhood on Sherwood Council Estate in Nottingham and is now in its second print.
Mortimer's World War One play, Death at Dawn, won two awards and was short-listed for a further two when it was first performed by Cloud Nine in 2014. It has been revived in 2016. The play is based on the real-life story of the young North Shields soldier, William Hunter who was executed in France in 1916.