A Len Deighton illustration from Ark 10

Ark Magazine editions 10 & 13 - 1954/55


Ark was a quarterly graphic magazine produced by Royal College of Art students, of which Deighton was one for three years. These two editions represent the first published pieces of writing by Len Deighton and as such are valuable to collectors.

Edition no 10 contains an article by Len Deighton called ‘Abroad in London’, in which he writes about his favourite parts of Soho (echoing what he later writes in London Dossier); he also illustrates this and another article with some of his line drawings.

In edition 13, Deighton adopts the same approach but this time about his impressions of New York, which he illustrates with some line caricatures, drawn with the characteristic thick black line work which is very typical of Deighton’s professional style at the time.

Why they're interesting

The line drawing style of the magazine reeks of the sixties artistic flowering and the style of British illustration which conquered the arts and publishing world. His article on a walk around Soho in London is so evocative of a London before mass immigration, Starbucks, McDonalds and congestion charging. Really interesting to see Deighton in his natural milieu before he started writing proper. A charming little window into the future career of Deighton as a writer.

Sample text

'Outside Torino's a couple of 'the girls' are talking to the barrow boys; next door machines bulldoze the sweet smell of fresh coffee on-to a smell-laden pavement. On the end of a ten-foot pole, steel fingers grip the neck of a Chianti bottle and pluck it from the bedecked ceiling. A thousand foreign banknotes glare from the wall as Toni serves another chopped herring with dill. Soon the tourists will be flooding into the district; the shop window lights gleam dully at salami through Italian wines.'

From 'Abroad in London' by Len Deighton, Ark 10.

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