Raymond Mortimer – Charles Raymond Bell Mortimer – was born in Knightsbridge in 1895, and, after his mother’s early death, was brought up by an aunt and uncle in Surrey. After what he described as a gruelling experience at boarding schools, he went briefly to Oxford, before working in the Great War in France in a hospital (he had been medically rejected).
At the encouragement of Virginia Woolf, he joined New Statesman as a writer, becoming its literary editor in 1935 (one year after his first shot at judging the competitions). He was its literary editor until 1947, after which he went to The Sunday Times as a lead reviewer, and writing for the ST until his death in 1980. He was responsible for an attention to detail in the back pages that helped give New Statesman its circulation boost in the 1940s. His own writing outside the review pages was often about visual art (in 1932 he jointly written a guide on how to look at pictures – French pictures in particular).
His private life was associated with Bloomsbury – he had an affair with Harold Nicolson in the 1920s, and was close friends with Eddie Sackville-West (the music critic of the NS, and one of the other two owners of Long Crichel House, in Wimborne, Dorset.)