Obituary: Kimberley Leston

The sudden and shocking death of the writer Kimberley Leston at the age of 35 has deeply saddened those of us who knew and loved her, while also depriving many others of her resonant and contemporary voice.

A talented editor before she gave full rein to her innate ability as a writer, Leston found her way into journalism after working for several years as a magazine designer and art director, both in Britain and in New York, on titles as diverse as Men Only and Smash Hits.

Her editorial break came when Nick Logan, founder and then editor of the Face, gave her a key role on his magazine in the mid-Eighties. Like many of us who worked there, Leston was actively encouraged to learn on the job and find her journalistic feet. By the time she left to join the launch of Marie Claire her skill and dedication had been rewarded and she had been promoted to assistant editor.

The transition from the close-knit family environment of the Face to the structure of a big corporate title didn't appeal, however, and she quit within months to concentrate on freelance work. It was a decision she did not regret - she found her niche very fast, exploiting a gift for witty and provocative writing in the pages of numerous publications including Arena, Elle, Cosmopolitan, Options, the Guardian and the Independent.

Kimberley Leston's trademark was a wry and knowing take on sex and gender issues. Her work resonated - and her style was widely imitated - because of her ability to allow her readers to believe she was confessing directly, and intimately, to them alone. She never pretended to the rest of us that the writing process came easily, but the end-result always read that way: enviably deft, clever and fearlessly frank. Writing memorably a typical insight about her time as a designer on porn magazines, she had this to say: "Pornography is as desperate and unchanging as poverty. It sustains itself in its bleak, self-sufficient prison too accustomed to its own limited expectations to adjust to real life outside. I do not believe that soft porn, despite its being a useful prop, incites men to rape who would not have been rapists otherwise. But these words and pictures have a life of their own . . . a life you can imagine but wouldn't want to be around."

After marriage to the writer and musician David Toop, and the birth of her daughter Juliette, Leston devoted more of her time to motherhood while also diversifying her writing. Lately she had studied astrology and within weeks was writing on the subject; she became "Dear Kimberley", agony aunt for the teen magazine Sugar; and occasionally penned erotic fiction for women's titles and regular columns for the broadsheets. Unlike many of her peers, she loathed the idea of being typecast.

Kimberley Leston's qualities as a writer were synonymous with those that made her a wonderful friend. We treasured her vivacity, candour, humour, generosity and optimism. She was someone who gave - and kept on giving - all of herself, both professionally and personally. Her parting leaves a great void in the lives of those she touched.

Kathryn Flett

Kimberley Leston, journalist: born London 19 June 1959; married 1987 David Toop (one daughter); died London 6 February 1995.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events business) - Central Manchester - £20K

£18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events busi...

Recruitment Genius: Project Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This privately-owned company designs and manuf...

Recruitment Genius: Human Resources Officer

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen at th...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager - London - £40,000 + Bonus

£36000 - £40000 per annum + Bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager (Generalist) -Old...

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...