Friday 31 July 2009

The lure of rarity

Recently took a trip to Leicester to see James Pickard, who was selling a collection of Deighton items from one of the world's leading collectors of Deighton materials (...Deightonaria, perhaps?) but who's sadly having to sell it. If anyone reading this blog is looking to snap up some really fabulous items for their collection, do get in touch with James through his website.

I managed to pick up some super rare items that I've been looking for for a long, long time - gaps in my collection - including the original Dove Ark supplement, three pristine copies of the first three novels and Elephanta, the rare as hen's teeth in-house magazine for the White Elephant restaurant in London, which in the seventies was one of the main haunts for the 'stars' of stage, screen and music. Len Deighton was one of the contributing editors. The magazine itself is of some interest - it has a rare photo of Deighton in it - but it's of more interest as a cultural artefact from the seventies, replete with flexi-disc (now, that dates it!).

Always worthwhile, trips up to Leicester. But as I always find out from James.....there's more to track down!

Saturday 25 July 2009

Radio 4 looks at the spy world

There's a new programme on BBC Radio 4 (which should be available to listen online for a week thereafter on the BBC's iPlayer facility) looking at the history of the intelligence service MI:6 and particularly its portrayal in fiction and popular culture, from Smiley to Bond.

This web article highlights how the public's imagination and knowledge of the secret service has been fed by fiction as much as lurid newspaper headlines, and looks at how this fictional side to MI:6 has developed from the 'spy scares' of the 19th Century through to the pre-First World War concerns about German spies crossing the coast to the post-war popularity of Bond and Le Carré.

Sir Colin McColl, MI:6 chief between 1989 and 1994, writes about the literary depiction of the espionage world: "I mean there were two feelings I think in the service over the years. There were those who were furious with John Le Carre because he depicts everybody as such disagreeable characters and they are always plotting against each other and so on… So people got rather cross about that. But I thought it was terrific because, again, it carried the name that had been provided by Bond and John Buchan and everybody else, it gave us another couple of generations of being in some way special."

Sounds like a fascinating radio series. I'm sure we can expect an appearance from 'Harry Palmer' in one of the three shows.

Sunday 19 July 2009

New additions to the Deighton Dossier

I've been fortunate enough to obtain copies of some really interesting elements from Deighton's design career in the fifties when, long before he was an internationally successful author, he was a student at the Royal College of Art and thereafter a designer and illustrator for a number of publishing and advertising firms. Downloadable .pdf copies are available of the poster he designed for London Transport called Country Village Life, and also the 1953 Ark supplement Dove, which is the first published design work by Deighton.

Go to the main Deighton Dossier website and click through the links on the 'what's new' section on the homepage.

Sunday 5 July 2009

Harry Palmer featured on great new spy fiction blog

This month, Armstrong Sabian - creator of the Mister 8 blog of spy film and fiction - is doing a number of blogs about Len Deighton's Harry Palmer character and the books and films in which he appears. It's well worth checking out, and I'm sure I'll be contributing some comments to his articles.

Wednesday 1 July 2009

The death of Karl Malden

Reported today, the death at 97 of actor Karl Malden, star of numerous Hollywood films and - in this context - the character of Leo Newbegin in the film of Billion Dollar Brain, the long-time associate of Michael Caine's Harry Palmer who becomes part of General Midwinter's 'Crusade for Freedom', only to die in the snows of Finland.