Thursday 7 October 2021

Deighton up for Southwark Blue Plaque

View over Southwark

As an author, Len Deighton has often eschewed literary prizes and honours, believing his work speaks for itself.

But as someone born in London, who lived there during much of his early life until his career as an author really took off, he might appreciate a blue plaque there in his name.

The Southwark Blue Plaque scheme is currently seeking support for nominees for recipients to honour those who've lived in and contributed to the London Borough.

One of the nominees is Len Deighton, who lived in a flat in Southwark during the sixties and wrote many of his books while resident in the borough.

Dossier readers are welcome to add their support for the nomination.


  1. Rob
    In order to drum up support for Len Deighton plaque, you might first like to do the following:
    1. A photograph of the flat where in the borough of Southwark, he lived in 1960s-giving specific dates.
    2. Also, would help, which novels/ material he published living there-the list of names
    3. It is best to write an article covering 1 and 2 above, in a widely read publication such as the Evening Standard or Metro.

    I remember putting a question in writing to Deighton through your blog a few years ago, about him meeting the Beatles, who were making so much news in those days of 1960s Deighton answered that he invited Paul McCartney in his Elephant and Castle flat, and they chatted over a meal.
    Is this Elephant and Castle/Walworth flat that is referred to in this blog? If it is, the case gets stronger for the Deighton plaque.

    A quick search of famous residents in the Southwark borough throws up the names of : Charlie Chaplin, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Charles Dickens, Michael Caine, also others, even the footballer Rio Ferdinand!) appearing in the list. But NO DEIGHTON. This is puzzling indeed.

    I was one of the very first Fleming readers, who switched to reading Deighton’s: The Ipcress File novel- that was in the midst of the Bond mania with the impending release of the Dr NO film; but the news that Harry Saltzman, the co-producer of this film, who had the vision of acquiring film rights of Fleming’s Bond novels,even before Albert Broccoli arrived in the scene, also already acquired the film rights of the Deighton’s first spy thriller, in my recollection, expanded vastly his readers ‘pool at that time. The release of the films: ‘The Ipcress File’ and ‘Funeral in Berlin’ , hence were block busters at the box office at the time when Bond films were reigning supreme.

    Support of a nominee for a plaque comes from readers, if the nominee is a writer. In the case of Fleming, the plaque in the place where he lived in Pimlico, was easier because of his name recognition thanks to Bond films which have been released at regular intervals. In the case of Deighton, you may have to point out the above.

    As I argued in my reply to the previous blog post by you, Penguin should have kicked off with the classics version sof : ‘The Ipcress File’ and ‘Funeral in Berlin’ books which firmly established a new mould of spy thrillers. Deighton’s name when mentioned to those who are not his hard-core freaders, the name : The Ipcress File’ chimes from them!

    1. In terms of the novels, it was pretty much from Funeral in Berlin through to Bomber, which was written on an IBM in his London flat. Fairly soon after that, Mr Deighton moved to Ireland.

    2. Do you know where this flat is( or where it stood) in the SouthwarK borough?

    3. I've got it somewhere on my computer. But can I find it? No. it's the north of the Borough, near Borough.

    4. Found it. He lived in Merrick Square in Southwark. Not exactly sure of the number, but think it was on the south east side of the square. Here's a Google Map link:

  2. So Len Deighton wrote the Ipcress File, at the Dordogne, in France, that is what the Wikipedia and this link say: Is there a blue plaque at the place in Marylebone, where he was born or that place does not exist any more? I also heard some one in 1960s when 'The Ipcress File' was published saying to me that he lived in Charlotte Street, Fitzrovia. Pity that the White Tower restaurant in Percy Street, at the corner of Charlotte Street, Fitzrovia, I understand then does not exist any more. May be something else in this place. Fleming and Deighton it was reported by Deighton himself that lunched in that restaurant. A blue plaque on the wall of that place now where the White Tower restaurant stood, would also be good, if the Southwark attempt fails. There is evidence too in this case.

  3. In the end, he didn't win the award of the plaque.