FLEMING, Ian (1908-1964). Casino Royale. London: Jonathan Cape, 1953.

First edition, first impression: a remarkable presentation copy inscribed by the author To M, these pages from my memoirs! Ian.

The iconic codename M in the James Bond novels refers to the head of the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6). Memorably played on screen by Bernard Lee, Robert Brown, Judi Dench, and most recently Ralph Fiennes, the inspiration for M may have been one of several figures closely associated with the author. It is believed the most likely candidate is Admiral John Godfrey, Fleming’s superior at the Naval Intelligence Department during WWII and the person with whom Fleming visited the Estoril Casino in Portugal which inspired the plot of Casino Royale. Such familiarity with Fleming’s wartime exploits would perhaps justify his inscription: ‘these pages from my memoirs’. Godfrey himself believed he was the basis of the character, complaining after Fleming’s death that he had “turned me into that unsavoury character, M”. An alternative candidate is Maxwell Knight, the head of MI5 whom Fleming knew well and who signed his memos with the initial “M”. It is believed this copy was sold at auction in 1983 from the library of Maud Russell, British socialite, art patron and friend of Fleming, who aided Jewish relatives in their escape from Nazi Germany during the 1930s. Whoever the original recipient, this remains perhaps the most evocative presentation copy of this title to appear on the market. A fine copy in a very good dust jacket. Gilbert A1a (1.1).

Octavo. Publisher's black cloth lettered in red, red heart device to front cover; first issue dust jacket decorated in red and yellow after the author's design (extremities lightly rubbed, rear panel slightly toned, minor nicks expertly repaired); housed in custom black quarter morocco case, red morocco labels, front panel with decorative onlays echoing design from dust jacket.
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