Friday 24 June 2022

The art of Shirley Deighton

A recent comment on this blog asked for some examples of the work of Shirley Deighton (nee Thompson), the artist and illustrator (Deighton was also an illustrator and graphic designer), who was Len Deighton's wife until they divorced in the late 'sixties. He the writer, she the artist, they were very much the creative pair in sixties swinging London.

Here are some of the paintings and images I have on file, some of which are taken from an episode of The Antiques Roadshow, in which a number of her illustrations were bought along for valuing:


  1. Thanks for posting Rob, brilliant images and further insight into the commercial art of the time. Having grown up with this style of book cover I still favour it for its tangibility (pen and ink as medium) and its allusion to the contents of the story rather than realist, photographic montages that establish the character's appearance or the specific settings and scenes- more like the over-wrought preview of a Hollywood movie. The craft of the cover, as you have discussed with the cryptic photo montages or drawings of Raymond Hawkey and others, seems less evident now on the shelves despite renewed interest in modern/retro graphic design...or perhaps I am limiting the scope to the mass run "airport" novel genre that prefer to spoon-feed like the movie previews rather than entice the reader with intrigue.
    Thanks Again.

  2. Interesting how the creative couple could not live together for long! I have seen this happen quite often when tensions develop, when one of them, frequently the female partner becomes very successful. It can happen in other professions too. An young physician from Malta , who worked in London, who I knew in 1970s- who later achieved great success in the USA later, as a top physician in his chosen field, said to me then, he married a person, who was not a physician. That way, he said, his home life was successful. . He is right as he has stayed married to the same woman for 50 years, to this day! That was the best advice I had, which I followed.
    Arthur Hailey's Airport has been one of my favourite novels, which broke new grounds then, and was a best seller by a mile. Like , Frederick Forsyth, he did his research in-depth and well, before he wrote a novel.
    The beauty of life is that changes happen, as part of the natural cycle of time; we better accept them as inevitable. Otherwise, we will become quite cynical and miserable..