FLEMING, Alexander (1881-1955). A sample of penicillium notatum mould on a paper base in a glazed Petri dish, with a manuscript label inserted into the reverse, signed and inscribed by Fleming: 'Penicillium notatum , The mould which produces Penicillin , Alexander Fleming 1948' (diameter of dish: 45mm.), within a paper envelope captioned in ink [?in Arthur Coulden's hand], 'Original Spore Penicillium notatum signed by Sir Alexander Fleming'.
Robert James FLEMING (b. 1883). Sir Alexander Fleming: A personal story of his life by his brother Robert originally written for the family. [?Bexhill-on-Sea, Sussex: after 1 January 1957 (cf. l.96), before 25 July 1957 (inscription)]. 4° (247 x 196mm). Mechanically-reproduced typescript on rectos only. Collation: ll.[i], title; 1-102, text; i-viii, 'List of Honours compiled by Lady (Amalia) Fleming'. Half-tone frontispiece portrait of Fleming after Grace Wheatley, one map, and 6 plates. Corrections in Robert Fleming's hand on ll. 22, 25, and 42. Loosely-inserted, carbon-copy errata slip dated '20.8.57' with 'Mr Coulden' typed in red and heading 'To the few who have copies of "Alec Fleming of Lochfield"', signed 'R.J. Fleming', and further inscribed '26 copies only were printed and bound. A.J. Coulden'. (Deep clean tear to l.v.) Original red cloth with gilt-lettering, the spine titled 'FLEMING', upper cover with the longer title 'ALEC FLEMING OF LOCHFIELD', slipcase. Provenance: '25 July - 57 To Arthur Coulden with thanks for your assistance R.J. Fleming' (inscription on front free endpaper ) -- by descent to the vendor.
A PENICILLIN SAMPLE SIGNED BY FLEMING, AND ONE OF 26 COPIES OF HIS BROTHER'S UNPUBLISHED MEMOIR. Gwyn Macfarlane, a recent biographer of Alexander Fleming, praises Robert Fleming's memoir for 'giving a vivid account of their Ayrshire boyhood and early years in London', and admits it is 'the basis for the opening chapters of most biographies of Fleming, including my own' (Alexander Fleming, London: 1984, p. x). The memoir is perhaps most remarkable for its insights into Fleming's personality and methodology, his discovery of penicillin's therapeutic potential in 1928, and that discovery's application and impact on his life. While working on Wright's team to determine the possibilities of vaccination for a range of infections, Fleming did not hesitate to use his own family for experiments: 'If any of us at home had a cold or any minor ailment, Alec would have a sample, give it the works at the lab, produce a vaccine and innoculate us', writes Robert. 'It was not that he thought we were really ill but we were willing guinea-pigs. I must have had my arm punctured and injected with hundreds of different kinds of dead microbes in those days' (l.47).
Robert's reasons for writing this memoir, when André Maurois's official biography was already planned, were in part practical, to dispel some of the myths surrounding Fleming, but also personal: 'This writing revives pleasant memories. I can think of Alec with less sorrow and know that he passed away having led a full life ... Possibly the only readers of this will be my wife and family but it will do no harm to have this lying in a drawer somewhere' (ll.1-2). The memoir was typed up by staff at the optical instruments business of J. & R. Fleming -- founded by the two brothers -- with the 'assistance' of Arthur P. Coulden to whom this copy is inscribed. The penicillin sample was likewise given to Coulden by Robert Fleming in gratitude for his help. At least 4 copies of the memoir are now in institutional collections (Dick Institute, Kilmarnock; British Library; National Library of Scotland; Library of Congress). (2)