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.

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

Recruitment Genius: Management Trainer

£30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Exciting career opportunity to join East...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Scientist / Research Assistant

£18000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious start-up company b...

Reach Volunteering: Chair of Trustees

VOLUNTARY ONLY - EXPENSES REIMBURSED: Reach Volunteering: Do you love the Engl...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game