David Abbott

David Abbott

As one of advertising’s most graceful writers, David Abbott brought a literary elegance to copy promoting even the most mundane products. Since leaving Abbott Mead Vickers two years ago, he’s been honing those instincts while writing his first novel. He allows that he didn’t want to “exchange one set of deadlines of 40 years for another,” but the 62-year-old nonetheless treats his fiction as a job. He’s out the door at 8 a.m. every morning to retreat to a writing studio he bought near London’s fashionable Sloane Square. Even for someone who enjoyed writing his own ads until he left the business, long-form fiction can be daunting. “I’m surprised at how slow I am because I used to be a very quick copywriter,” he admits. Of course, there are the inevitable distractions: the books around him, walks around the square, jaunts with one of his three grandchildren (two others live in Bilbao, Spain). For about four years, Abbott has been a nonexecutive director and investor at The Harvill Press, a small independent publisher that specializes in translations of contemporary fiction from around the world. Retirement has also allowed him to pursue one of his other great interests: gardening, both at his South Kensington home in the city and at his country place in Norfolk. He’s a contributing editor—an advisory role—at Gardens Illustrated and has done some consulting on a gardening book due out next spring. “It’s actually the structure and creation of a garden I like,” says Abbott. “It’s not really my way of paying homage to various kinds of plants.”MagnumMatrixMagnumMagnumMatrix