Sunday 25 August 2013

Archive round-up - some lesser known discoveries ....

Posting on the blog has as readers will see been a bit slower than normal over the last couple of months with the summer, holidays and other things getting in the way.

Having had some contact with Len I'm hoping to catch up with him in the UK in October and this might well create another opportunity for a fourth Deighton Dossier interview, so welcome ideas now of questions and themes which readers might want me to explore this time with Len.

Until that, I've been going through some of the recent rarer items I've come across in recent months that have been added to my collection of ephemera related to Len's life and works, which I thought I'd share with blog readers through a series of photographs.

First up, a 1967 edition of what might be called a 1960's "lifestyle" magazine called Nova, which is a mix of fashion advice, serious articles - such as the cover story about sexual mores, featuring BBC TV character Alf Garnett on the cover - shopping advice and stories. In this edition, Len Deighton's fifth novel, An Expensive Place to Die, is serialised (which all four of his previous novels had been in various media). With an illustration by contemporary Roger Law (later of Spitting Image fame), showing the character of Kuang from the story, this is the second part of the serialisation in which the narrator seeks to understand the relationship between Inspector Loiseau's ex-wife Maria and the mysterious Datt, who own the mysterious clinic researching sexual behaviour.

Nova 1967

The illustration by Roger Law

Part two of the adaptation
Another serialisation of Len's books - this time, Catch a Falling Spy (the US name of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Spy) occurs in the US edition of Cosmopolitan from December 1976, whose female audience doesn't strike me as an obvious core market for spy thrillers. In the same style as the earlier adaptation, this feature provides a short introduction before giving readers seventeen pages of close-typed text, which is a significant amount of the magazine to give up to part of a novel. But, clearly serialisation is another way to reach a readership who might not normally have gone out and bought the novel. The most interesting thing about this serialisation is the illustration by Don Daily, which have a very clear seventies design ethic.

Not an obvious place for spy fiction

The design shrieks the 1970s
Having become one of the sixties' big literary names since the publication of The Ipcress File in 1962, Deighton was in big demand for interviews and features from a range of media. But it wasn't just Len whom media wished to speak with. In this September 1964 issue of Vogue magazine, such was Len's celebrity that the magazine saw interest for its readers in talking to Len's first wife, Shirley (as part of a feature called "Classified material: spy writers' wives", which also runs a profile of John Le Carré's wife, who's only referred to as "Mrs Le Carré").

This profile of Shirley Deighton, who was an artist in her own right, is cleverly written through interspersing the details of the first-person profile with relevant text from her husband's book Funeral in Berlin, published the same year. Here's an example as Shirley wrote about how Len was when writing a new book:
'If his book isn't going well, he's difficult to cope with. He tends to niggle about why there isn't any milk in the fridge. He'll fuss about things, get suspicious. ("I hope you haven't been giving him access to our records," I said ... "No,"said Jean, "I got it." "What do you mean you got it?" I said. "You climbed through the window of the Sureté Nationale at dead of night, do you mean?") I know when he comes through the door what mood he's going to be in, and I know how I should respond to get him in a good mood. But I won't pander to him. I never know what he's thinking. He's quite unpredictable, but I could never live with a man who did the same thing every day. In September, he's going to learn to fly.'
The magazine remains all about style

Shirley Deighton

The article has the same 'style' as her husband's book

On a different track, this summer I finally managed to source something I've been looking for for years: below is a picture of an 'original' Deighton, one of Len's well-received designs for the Andre Deutsch publishing house catalogue from Summer 1967, which is an excellent example of Len's design, developed at art school, as an illustrator, featuring his typical heavy outline and slightly unrealistic perspective. It's extremely rare, so it's a pleasing find.

One of six catalogues illustrated by Deighton