Born in London, it is said that Deighton’s interest in spy stories sprang from witnessing the arrest of his next door neighbour Anna Wolkoff in 1940, who was convicted of violating the Official Secrets Act by attempting to provide the Nazi party with secret documents.
His interest in the military can be traced back to his enrolment in National Service, during which time he was a photographer for the Royal Air Force. His experiences flying in Mosquito fighters and Lancaster bombers would have a direct influence on his 1970 novel Bomber, the first novel to be written on a word processor. Following his time in the military, Deighton enrolled in Saint Martin’s School of Art, and subsequently undertook a degree at the Royal College of Art. Before utilising his talents to illustrate his own military and cookery books later in his career, he worked as an illustrator in New York and illustrated the cover of the first British edition of Jack Kerouac’s On The Road.
Deighton’s career has been and continues to be extremely far-reaching and varied, including working as an art director in an advertising agency, a film producer, screen writer, travel editor of Playboy magazine, and the cookery writer for The Observer.
Several of Deighton’s novels have been adapted to film, most famously The IPCRESS File starring Michael Caine, with others planned to be adapted for television. His influence has been strong throughout his career, with admirers of his work including Quentin Tarantino and Anthony Burgess, with the latter naming Deighton’s Bomber as one of the ninety-nine best novels in English since 1939.