A voyage round my father, the noted letter writer

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ROGER MORTIMER may be best remembered as The Sunday Times’s racing correspondent of almost 30 years, but to daughter Jane Torday he was also “the wittiest, wisest and sometimes naughtiest of letter writers”.

Speaking at yesterday’s Literary Lunch organised by The Yorkshire Post in Harrogate, she said: “These unique and brilliant letters kept plopping onto my doormat over the years. As well as being funny, fatherly concern played a part in nearly everything he wrote.”

Having never knowingly thrown away a single one of his notes, Ms Torday has added her own memories to write Dear Jane, a record of their relationship. The book includes letters from Mr Mortimer’s time as a prisoner-of-war in the Second World War and also features more light-hearted matters – such as his views on champagne. “He said it was like magic,” recalled Ms Torday. “He said whatever was wrong, if you weren’t cured after two glasses then you were seriously ill.”

The second speaker was journalist and BBC producer Sean Stowell, author of The King’s Psychic, which explores the story of one of the men involved in the abdication of Edward VIII – a story The Yorkshire Post broke.

Leeds-born Dr Alexander Cannon was a fully-qualified psychiatrist and self-help guru to the well-to-do in the 1930s who also had a finger on the political heartbeat of the time.

The final speaker was Jane Sellars, whose book – Art and Yorkshire – is a study of art inspired by the county.

“I was 11 when I finally got to see real art at the National Gallery in London,” she said. “I just felt really at home and decided I wanted to work in a gallery, so I studied art history. I worked in museums and dreamed about writing novels.”