Len Deighton … the poet of the spy story.

Len Deighton … the poet of the spy story.

Len Deighton photographed for The Daily Telegraph in 2009. Credit: David Rose

Len Deighton, born 18 February 1929, is a British author. Deighton is considered one of the top three spy novelists of his time (along with Ian Fleming and John le Carré). In addition he is a highly acclaimed military historian, cookery writer, and graphic artist. The IPCRESS File (1962), his first novel, was an instant bestseller and broke the mould of thriller writing. The Sunday Times dubbed him “the poet of the spy story”. Deighton’s first protagonist – a nameless spy christened Harry Palmer in the films – was made famous worldwide in the iconic 1960s films starring Michael Caine.

The famously publicity-shy Deighton has this to say about his writing routine …

“Every book is different and every writer is different. My advice to anyone starting to write fiction books is to be ready to devote a great deal of time to it. Write every day, even if its notes and research. I write notes every day. It is a habit that comes of years of research and a poor memory. I was filling notebooks with material that interested me long before I ever thought of becoming a professional writer. I have never completed a book in less than a year and most took longer than that. If you are waking up at four o’clock in the morning wondering if it’s all going wrong, it’s probably all going well.”

“When I started writing I had rules. One was that violence must not solve the problem, and I cannot have the hero overcome violence with a counterweight of violence.”

 “Two things destroy writers: praise and alcohol.”



7 responses to “Len Deighton … the poet of the spy story.

  1. I could not agree more, Chris – I read everything I could find of his when I discovered Deighton at the age of fifteen or so.

    It was only LATER that I discovered Caine’s movies as I lived in remote South Africa at the time and his dry humour melted me still further. What a smoothie! B

  2. Speaking of spies…Will Bic Biro be making an appearance any time soon?

    • Oh you devil. You remember him. Thank you. The answer is yes … I think I left him on an exploding island with his new ladyfriend. I’ll probably repeat that series and then continue to a new adventure. Oh … and BIC sends you a big hug and an inky kiss. 😊
      P.S.. Sorry I took so long to reply. Behind with my mail something chronic.

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