On Her Majesty's Secret Service.London, Jonathan Cape, 1963 Stock Code: 137722
NotesFirst edition, first impression, superb presentation copy, inscribed by the author to Noël Coward, "To Noël This slice of real Swiss life! With love Ian", with Coward's bookplate to the front pastedown. To Coward, who at the time of publication was living as a tax exile in his mountain home in Switzerland, Fleming humorously suggests that his latest James Bond novel, set in Switzerland, represents the reality of life in that country.
Noël Coward (1899-1973) was one of Fleming's closest friends. In 1948 Coward visited Jamaica where he rented Goldeneye from Fleming for a week: "On arrival, a boyish, teasing friendship and good-natured rivalry over Jamaica began between Coward and Fleming. During his visit, Coward celebrated Goldeneye with a song that complained about the airless rooms and the hardness of Fleming's furniture... Sardonically he referred to his host's home as 'Golden Eye, Nose and Throat' because it reminded him of a hospital. Fleming, too, enjoyed the sparring and wrote about the outcome of Coward's first visit... 'He Coward then went off, and, as close to me as he could get, built a house (what am I saying - four houses) and - to hell with the charms of Bermuda and Switzerland! - comes here every year" (Brooks, p. 226). During his time in Jamaica, Coward penned his play, Volcano, which featured characters based on his expat friends, including Ian and Ann Fleming; it was never produced in Coward's lifetime.
Coward was a witness at Fleming's wedding to Ann in 1952 and became godfather to their son Caspar. Ann wrote to Cecil Beaton of the occasion: "I dare hardly admit it but Noël is a godfather, an act of treachery on my part as we thought he would be offended if not asked as he considers himself responsible for the whole thing. When he appeared last Sunday he was quite delightful for the first hour and then so vulgar and dull that I longed to cancel the G-parent arrangement and be frightfully rude to him." Coward owned a holiday house in Dover until 1951, when he sold it to the Flemings, which inspired Fleming to set Moonraker in Kent.
Octavo. Original brown cloth, (binding A, no priority of issue), spine lettered in silver, ski track design to front cover in white. With the dust jacket.
Faint stain to top edge, foot of spine a little bruised. A very nice copy, contents clean, in the pleasingly bright original dust jacket, with tiny mark to head of spine panel and fold of rear flap, not price-clipped.
Gilbert A11a (1.1). Victoria Brooks, Literary Trips: Following in the Footsteps of Fame, Volume 1 (2002).
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