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Len Deighton (Len Leonard Cyril Deighton) Biography

(1929– ), (Len Leonard Cyril Deighton), The Ipcress File, Horse Under Water, Billion-Dollar Brain

spy british war departmental

British thriller writer, called by Julian Symons ‘a kind of poet of the spy novel’; born in London, educated at the Royal College of Art. He served in the RAF and worked in a variety of professions before turning to authorship. His first book, The Ipcress File (1962), with its unnamed, working-class hero, elliptic narration, and emphasis on departmental rivalry in British intelligence, gave a new turn to the Cold War spy story. Seven more novels with the same hero followed—the best are perhaps Horse Under Water (1963), Billion-Dollar Brain (1966), An Expensive Place to Die (1967), and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Spy (1976; US title Catch a Falling Spy), but his later work, from XPD (1981) onwards, seems more conventional, possibly because his methods had now been imitated by others. Among his other thrillers is SS-GB (1978), which has science fiction elements: the German invasion of 1941 has been successful, and Britain is an occupied country. Deighton has also written novels: Bomber (1970); short stories: Declarations of War (1971); historical studies of the Second World War: Fighter: The True Story of the Battle of Britain (1977), Blitzkrieg: From the Rise of Hitler to the Fall of Dunkirk (1979); and cookery books: Où est le garlic? (1965). Most recently he has returned to the subjects of espionage and departmental intrigue with a series of works about a British intelligence agent, Bernard Samson: Spy Hook (1988), Spy Line (1989), Spy Sinker (1990), Faith (1994), and Hope (1995).

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