11 October 2002
FLEMING, Ian. Live and Let Die. London: Jonathan Cape, 1954.
8o. Original black cloth like boards, stamped in gilt (hinges cracked); pictorial dust jacket (some very minor darkening to white portion of lower panel). Provenance: WINSTON S. CHURCHILL (1874-1965), British Prime Minister (presentation inscription).
FIRST EDITION. AN EXTRAORDINARY ASSOCIATION COPY, INSCRIBED BY IAN FLEMING TO WINSTON S. CHURCHILL on the front free endpaper: "To Sir Winston Churchill From whom I stole some words! from The Author 1954."
Churchill's own definition of the British Secret Service, from his 1932 collection of essays Thoughts and Adventures, is printed on the inner flap of the dust jacket: "In the higher ranges of Secret Service work the actual facts in many cases were in every respect equal to the most fantastic inventions of romance and melodrama. Tangle within tangle, plot and counter-plot, ruse and treachery, cross and double-cross, true agent, false agent, double agent, gold and steel, the bomb, the dagger and the firing party, were interwoven in many a texture so intricate as to be incredible and yet true. The Chief and the High Officers of the Secret Service revelled in these subterranean labyrinths, and pursued their task with cold and silent passion."
Fleming's father Valentine was made Member of Parliament for South Oxfordshire in 1910. A fellow MP, Churchill regularly attended weekend shooting parties at the Fleming mansion in Hampstead Heath. In 1917, when Major Valentine Fleming was killed on the Western front, Churchill wrote the moving "appreciation" of him that ran on the front page of The Times.
Ian Fleming's second James Bond novel was well received and met with good reviews. Raymond Chandler (Fleming's literary godfather [see lot 42]) provided a blurb for Live and Let Die. "Ian Fleming is probably the most forceful and driving writer of what I suppose still must be called thrillers in England..." A critic of The Times Literary Supplement wrote: "Mr. Ian Fleming is without doubt the most interesting recent recruit among thriller writers. The second adventure of his Secret Service agent...contains passages which for sheer excitement have not been surpassed by any modern writer in this kind."
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