By Mandi Bierly
Updated January 16, 2009 at 12:00 PM EST

John Mortimer, the British barrister and creator of Horace Rumpole, died Friday at his home in England following a long illness, The New York Times reports. He was 85. Rumpole, a grouchy old lawyer who loved his job, his wine, his cigars, and possibly his wife (She Who Must Be Obeyed), became a beloved character in short stories and novels, in the TV series Rumpole of the Bailey starring Leo McKern, and on radio.

Just yesterday, it was announced that Mortimer would receive The Strand Magazine‘s 2009 lifetime achievement award at a ceremony scheduled for July in New York. “I feel honoured to be chosen to receive this Lifetime Achievement Award on behalf of Horace Rumpole,” Mortimer said in a statement for the announcement. “He is, of course, a truly British character and I am delighted that he has come to be appreciated so much by his American cousins.”