Andrew Lycett, the author of the outstanding Ian Fleming biography, Ian Fleming: The Man Behind James Bond, reviewed Jon Gilbert's Ian Fleming: The Bibliography for the Times Literary Supplement.
James Bond never reads much more than Scarne on Cards and the occasional thriller. However, his creator, Ian Fleming, was a serious bibliophile, who in a little known parallel existence founded the leading trade magazine The Book Collector, ran the upmarket Queen Anne Press, which published his friends Evelyn Waugh and Patrick Leigh Fermor, and put together an extraordinary collection of books which “made things happen”. He provided the largest number of privately owned books to the prestigious Printing and the Mind of Man exhibition mounted at the British Museum and Earls Court in 1963, the year before his premature death.
Diehard enthusiasts will be disappointed to find no definitive information on The Black Daffodil, the book of poems Fleming wrote as a young man, but subsequently disowned (he had all copies burnt). However, most readers will relish Gilbert’s documentation of Fleming’s written output from his schoolboy scribblings in the Wyvern (the “ephemeral” he produced at Eton) to pieces for the Sunday Times and 007 spin-offs for high-paying American magazines such as Playboy and Holiday. Along the way there were fourteen books featuring Bond; Chitty Chitty Bang Bang for children; and non-fiction works such as Thrilling Cities.
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"Ian Fleming is best known as the creator of James Bond, an icon of 20th century popular culture”, says author Jon Gilbert, “but he was also a journalist, publisher, travel writer, motor enthusiast, card player, accomplished golfer and noted bibliophile. Much has been written about Fleming and his legendary creation, but until now there has been no serious bibliographical account of his published work.”