Born on February 18, 1929, the son of a London chauffeur, Leonard Cyril Deighton grew up in London and was educated at the Marylebone Grammar School. He worked as a railway clerk before doing his National Service stint as an air cadet in the Royal Air Force, where he was also assigned as a photographer attached to the Special Investigation Branch. These experiences were to become extremely influential in his writing about World War II.
After his discharge in 1949, Deighton went to art school at the St. Martin’s School of Art and then to the Royal College of Art on a scholarship, schools at which he studied illustration. He tried his hand at various occupations, among them waiter, dress-factory manager, teacher, British Overseas Airways Corporation steward; and he founded a literary agency. It was during his time as a waiter in the evenings that he developed an interest in cooking and learned the skills of pastry chef. He worked as an illustrator in New York City and as an advertising agency art director in London.
Deighton was a lifetime subscriber to Strategy and Tactics magazine, and during the 1950’s, while living in London, was a member of the British Model Soldier Society. At that time the society enacted large-scale war games with full teams working on military actions. (Deighton based his 1974 novel Spy Story on a war game.) In the early 1960’s Deighton produced a comic strip on cooking for The Observer. Its appeal led him to write cookery...
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