Sunday, 16 May 2021

Couple of recent Deighton-related articles readers may be interested in

Things are relatively quiet with respect to news about Deighton's books - now that the Penguin editions are starting to roll out - but there are still the odd article relating to the author and his works for readers to be aware of.

In The New Statesman (a UK-based, broadly left-of-centre magazine), journalist John Gray has written a profile style piece called Len Deighton and the mundanity of spies. If you can look past the odd spelling error (sub-editors failed to correct a reference to 'Leighton'), then it's worthwhile giving it a read, as the writer compares Deighton's spy thrillers with other classic characters and stories from Maugham and Fleming and others.

Earlier in the month, in The Observer, Deighton's son Alex - who has been co-authoriting the most recent cookstrips in the magazine with his father (now, sadly, at an end), discusses with the interviewer the recent launch of the new Penguin Modern Classics editions, and his father's continued legacy of books being enjoyed by new generations of readers.

Saturday, 13 March 2021

New Disney editions looking very stylish

Last year, it was announced that Penguin had secured the paperback writes to Len Deighton's fiction and non-fiction output, and would publish them under its Penguin Modern Classics imprint. 

The first cover images for the initial releases in the series have been released, and they look mightily impressive, based on those available so far (all the books are available for pre-order, but not all covers have been shared yet).

The overall look and feel has been created by Penguin's Art Director Tony Stoddart, and what is immediately apparently is how his overall feel seems to make passing references to previous Penguin film tie-in editions from the sixties, with the famous covers featuring Michael Caine as Harry Palmer, which were designed by Len Deighton's long-time collaborator, Raymond Hawkey.

Take a look, and see what you think.

Funeral in Berlin 2021, designed by Tony Stoddart

Funeral in Berlin 1966, designed by Ramond Hawkey

The orange chevron in the new edition is a wonderful homage to the famous - and famously successful - three editions of the 'Harry Palmer' novels which were published by Penguin in the 'sixties; they did not, however, have the rights to The Ipcress File.

These new editions will include all Deighton's fiction output, plus many of his historical works too.

Friday, 26 February 2021

Another serendipitous find

As a collector of Len Deighton's output (along with a couple of other authors) for a number of decades, through talking to dealers, scouring second-hand book shops and trawling online sites like ABEBooks, I've got a pretty good idea of what the market is:

  • Which books are rare
  • How often the crop up in the market
  • What represents good value
That allows me, as a collector, to be more focused and targeted and ensure that any spare cash I use on adding to my collection, is well-used and helps me get a more complete collection.

Every so often, something comes along that I've never heard of or seen before for sale; one recent example explored here on this blog was the SS-GB Whitehall postcard - super rare - which I found after years of searching. Surprisingly, within a couple of months, I found another (which I purchased) that included some of the original publicity content sent out to booksellers.

Feast and famine, and serendipity. Such is the experience of the serious book collector.

This week, I found another item that was totally off my radar. It's a limited edition book of illustrations, called An Alphabet in praise of Frogs and Toads by John Norris Wood. And, it has a foreword by Len Deighton (as a serious collector, I don't collect just Deighton's books, but his forewords and book jacket illustrations too). 

Why? Well, it turns out Wood and Deighton were fellow students at London's Royal College of Art, where both were graphic designers and illustrators. Deighton's forward recalls his time at the college and his friendship with Wood. The book itself is simply page after page of - admittedly well done - pictures of frogs and toads. But, as a limited private printing of just 320 copies, it's rare.

I checked with other collectors and online and found that the market price was in the £2-300 mark.

Me? I paid £50 online for it. I'd consider that a bargain for something so rare. 

It just goes to show that for those of us who enjoy collecting books - of whatever kind - there's always something new to find, and that's why we do what we do; that's why collectors are rarely satisfied or say to themselves, "You know, I'm done."

Happy collecting.

Friday, 1 January 2021

A new Harry Palmer on the horizon

The new Harry Palmer. What, no glasses?

 Before Christmas, ITV delivered a Christmas present for Deighton fans, of sorts.

A new six-part TV series based on The Ipcress File novel is planned for broadcast this year, with a new younger cast recreating Len Deighton's first novel - reimagining, perhaps, given the fabled original movie starring Michael Caine is so well known.

The part made famous by Michael Caine will be played by young British actor Joe Cole, who's most famous for his role in BBC 1's Peaky Blinders historical drama. He'll be joined by actress Lucy Boynton - who one imagines will play Jean - and also Tom Hollander. Further details are awaited about the series but the signs in the ITV press release are relatively positive.

With six parts, presumably an hour long, the producers should have more time for character development and to visit more parts of the books - including those in the Pacific - which were excised from the original cinema version. 

Potentially, too, they have the option to explore more of Harry Palmer's back story - the producers are sticking with the name created for the film, given the brand value of doing so - particularly his criminal acts within the army in Berlin which originally landed him with Colonel Ross in W.O.O.C.(P).

Of course, any series based on a book from the 'sixties will inevitably be 'updated' and made 'relevant', but as long as it's not egregious or doesn't get in the way of telling the story, such things are forgiveable.

Still, it should be fun, and I wait to see with interest whether it can hold its ground with the original.

Now, some better 2021 New Year news would be to hear that Clerkenwell Films - holders of the TV rights for all nine Bernard Samson books - has, having held the rights for over five years - announced plans to start filming the series.

But, maybe we have to wait for April Fool's Day for that announcement.

What do other readers think - good idea or not, the Ipcress update?