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    Sale 5315

    Fine Printed Books & Manuscripts including Modern First Editions

    13 November 2008, London, South Kensington

  • Lot 314

    FLEMING, Ian Lancaster (1908-1964). Four autograph letters signed ('Ian', one 'S.W.A.K.'), to Loelia Ponsonby ('Darling L' and 'Dear Loelia'), on headed paper, 22b Ebury Street, Victoria, and 43 Bishopsgate, 3 May [n.y.] and n.d., together 11 pages, 4to (one letter annotated in pencil with the word 'Fleming' following the signature).

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    FLEMING, Ian Lancaster (1908-1964). Four autograph letters signed ('Ian', one 'S.W.A.K.'), to Loelia Ponsonby ('Darling L' and 'Dear Loelia'), on headed paper, 22b Ebury Street, Victoria, and 43 Bishopsgate, 3 May [n.y.] and n.d., together 11 pages, 4to (one letter annotated in pencil with the word 'Fleming' following the signature).

    'PS. THIS IS A LOVE LETTER!': a flirtatious series of letters to the original Miss Moneypenny. Fleming's letters concern her exploits ('my bush-telegraph says you are having the wildest time'), gossip surrounding their social circle ('I am assured his brother was a spy & cremated after execution by the Nazis') and their meetings (asking her to the Blenheim ball; 'I shall come & wake you with a kiss I shall sleep outside (I said outside) your door & live on Luft und Liebe - which means air & love in case you weren't finished'; and tempting her to visit him after a trip to Cannes ('I would coo to you, & smooth you down & then you wouldn't talk so fast & think someone is always standing behind your back'). Written just before and during the Second World War and whilst Fleming was engaged on 'various nefarious projects' at the War Office, his letters are full of references to the War: ('Winston refuses to join the Cabinet except on his own terms -- the Cabinet is terrified at the idea of letting the fox in among the chickens. My bush-t says Hitler will have a shot at walking into Danzig next week. Je m'en debate'; 'I sent you one meagre postcard from Russia which you probably didn't get. It was enormous fun -- no Tchekov & Lilac, just plain "nostalgie de la boue" -- and I wrote a world-beating memorandum on the Russian army when I got back. The chanceleries are still quaking from it & I expect it will start a war'. His war-time exploits also feature, including Operation Goldeneye, the plan overseen by Fleming in 1941-2 to maintain vital intelligence should the Germans take over Spain: 'The "situation" is following the "Fleming Plan" and being all for the best. It has done everyone a lot of good and the only snag is that it has made a lot of people grow moustaches, everyone is still playing Red Indians hard'.

    Fleming's lively and humorous letters are written to his friend the Hon. Loelia Ponsonby (1902-1993, the third wife of Bendor, 2nd Duke of Westminster, whom she divorced in 1947), on whom he is said to have based the character of James Bond's personal secretary (named 'Loelia Ponsonby' in Diamonds Are Forever, Moonraker and From Russia With Love; her flirtatious character was transferred to Miss Moneypenny in later works). The reference to 'Red Indians' is to the nickname of Fleming's auxiliary unit, 30 Assault Unit, which was trained in techniques such as lock-picking, safe-cracking and unarmed comabt in order to collect intelligence. (4)


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