Len Deighton remembers Ted Allbeury

The notable, though sadly somewhat forgotten writer of espionage novels died last month at the age of 88, and along with its obituary, the Guardian prints a short piece by Len Deighton (who also seems to have disappeared under the radar) about his friend:

No one knew Ted very well. I saw him only now and again. And yet Ted

was one of my close friends and I believe that he also felt close to

me. Ted was not a renowned drinking companion and didn’t like social

gatherings large or small. His life was given to his family and his

work. He was a notable success in both these endeavours: his wife Graz

adored him and his powerful writing talent is evident in his fine books.


was a large, muscular man with a quick wit that did not match his

hesitant and thoughtful responses. He had the easy confidence that

comes with strength of mind and body, and could have been mistaken for

the foundry worker he had once been. I believe he was the only British

secret agent to have parachuted into Nazi Germany. He remained there

until the Allied armies arrived. Then, with Ted appointed to a senior

and important intelligence role for the occupying army, he became

entangled in the arrangements for Barbara Hutton’s divorce from Cary

Grant. It was one of the few personal stories that Ted enjoyed


During the cold war, Ted was running agents across

the border that divided communist East Germany from the west. His luck

ran out and the Russians left him nailed to a kitchen table in a

farmhouse. Practised torturers, they made sure he had a chance to

survive and take the story back to his fellow agents. The war never

ended for him. His children were kidnapped and he pursued them to South

America. Ted never told me what happened after that.

I urged Ted

to write his memoirs but he could not be persuaded. He said he’d signed

an official document that prevented him doing so. Well, that’s our

loss, along with Ted himself: a hero, patriot, family man, friend and

outstanding writer.

I think that pretty much says it all.