THE DEIGHTON DOSSIER

The online resource about writer Len Deighton

DEIGHTON AT 90

On 18 February 2019, writer Len Deighton turns 90 years old.

This website - established over ten years ago as an online testimony to the breadth, popularity and impact of his work - marks this occasion by focusing on what Len Deighton's myriad works mean to readers from across the globe. Through the website, the accompanying blog and the Facebook page, a small but enthusiastic community of Deighton readers and fans of Harry Palmer and Bernard Samson, two of his greatest creations, recognise this is a milestone worth acknowledging, if for no other reasons that simply to say thank you.

The Dossier is marking Len's birthday in three ways on this page. First, a short but personal note from the curator of the Deighton Dossier, Rob Mallows. Second, a range of personal testimonies from Deighton readers across the globe, in response to the question posed to them by the Dossier: What do Len Deighton's books mean to you as a reader? Finally, the results of an online survey created to find out - if not once and for all, but right now - the answer to the question: what are readers' favourite books by Len Deighton.

My Image

THE DOSSIER REFLECTS

Deighton Dossier creator and curator Rob Mallows writes:

"The image on the right is from 2012, when I met Len Deighton, having written to him to alert him to the presence of the Deighton Dossier and, in effect, ask his permission to continue building it.

Not only did he give me that permission; he has been content since then for the Dossier to grow and develop (both on this website, on the blog, and on Facebook and Twitter) as the main online resource about his work for fans and collectors alike. On a number of occasions, he has been generous enough to contribute content, such as this series of interviews about his work, and proved to be a fascinating person to know and converse with.

I have enjoyed his books for many years, and in particular the nine Bernard Samson novels, which I can turn to again and again, and always find something new in them. I've collected his books too, and each new find of ephemera, each new discovered article, highlights just how many subjects he has written about, and written about well.

This website exists as a testimony to his many works and a simple way I, as a reader, can show appreciation for each and every book, film, article and insight. And what a lot there is to record and marvel at. Len is a polymath; even, perhaps, a modern-day Renaissance man, such is the breadth of his work, expertise and achievements over the decades.

It's nice to say thank you not just from me, but on behalf of all the visitors to the Deighton Dossier.

Let's remind ourselves again of some of Len Deighton's achievements:

  • An author of best-selling novels
  • A well-respected military historian
  • A playwright
  • A film producer
  • An illustrator and artist
  • An advertising executive
  • A journalist
  • An expert on airships and aeroplane engines
  • A pioneering user of computer technology in writing
  • A trained chef and gourmand; and, of course,
  • A husband, father, and grandfather"

My Image

READER PERSPECTIVES AND TESTIMONIES

Knowing that Len Deighton's ninetieth birthday was coming up, the Dossier asked a simple question of its readers on the blog and Facebook page. That question? What do Len Deighton's books mean to you as a reader?

That is an important question, because this site is ultimately about the reader, the fan, and it seemed right that space should be given over to personal perspectives on what Deighton's books mean to different readers around the world. Reading is an intensely personal experience; even though they are only words on a page or pixels on a screen, readers form firm attachments with characters and stories and places; books have, like no other medium, the capacity to transport a reader to anywhere in the world, and to be part of fantastic, romantic adventures from the comfort of his or her armchair or sofa.

What came across in the reader feedback to this question - the best of which are reproduced below - is quote how much love and passion there remains for Deighton's works - fiction and non-fiction - even though he's been in effective retirement for the last two decades. Great stories and great characters leave their mark, as you can judge by reading the passionate words of thanks and tribute set out below.

Click on each of the eighteen testimonies from around the world to find out more about that reader's thoughts on Deighton.

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  • "I came across a Norwegian edition of Bomber, and I was hooked…"

    Karl Gunnar Øen, Norway

  • "[Len Deighton's books] had an electrifying effect on me…"

    Georgie Montmorency-Marchbanks, UK

  • "To me, Len Deighton was, and will always be to me, a true literary giant…"

    Isyew, UK

  • "A unique combination of acerbic wit, complex plotting and accurate detail…"

    Nick Flindall, UK

  • "The Samson trilogies were what motivated me to have a go at writing myself…"

    Nick Elliott, UK

  • "Len's one liners would have impressed even Raymond Chandler…"

    Matthew Comstock, USA

  • "Len Deighton in many ways opened up Europe for us Finnish readers…"

    Eero Raunio, Finland

  • "Thank you for the reading pleasure you have given me over decades…"

    John McAtamney, UK

  • "Your books have given me entertainment, consolation and contentment…"

    Simon Hamid, USA

  • "I went on to read all of the Bernard Samson books one after the other…"

    Peter Lees, UK

  • "[Deighton's books] were always full of sardonic wit and very sharp observation…"

    Tom Burroughes, UK

  • "Len Deighton's books showed me a world full of espionage and intrigue…"

    Derek Thompson, UK

  • "[Deighton's books] were always full of sardonic wit and very sharp observation…"

    John Koenig, Wisconsin

  • "My father snapped up all his titles as fast as Len Deighton could write them…"

    Adam Nixon, England

  • "There would certainly be no Spybrary podcast without your writing, Len…"

    Shane Whaley, Vermont

  • "No story ever feels at all stale, however many times you've been there before…"

    Paul Neczypir, England

  • "That's what Len Deighton has consistently done for me: Delivered…"

    Scott Belliveau, Virginia

  • "The Bernard Samson books represent the pinnacle of the spy novel…"

    Craig Arthur, New Zealand

SURVEY RESULTS

What's your favourite book? It's so subjective a question that you could argue what's the point of asking the question - there is no right, or wrong answer. That's true. But, to mark Len's ninetieth birthday, the Dossier thought it wold be worth a try asking anyway.

We had nearly just under one hundred responses to the survey. While by no means definitive, the results represent a fair reflection of the views of readers, and is in line with feedback and comment on the Deighton Dossier over the years. The results? Well, they may not be surprising to many. However, the survey results do show Deighton Dossier readers have good taste, and understand quality.

  • What is the Dossier readers' favourite novel?

  • What was the first Deighton novel they read?

  • What is their favourite non-fiction book?

  • What is their favourite Deighton cover?

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