On Her Majesty's Secret Service

FLEMING, Ian

INSCRIBED TO NOEL COWARD

FLEMING, Ian On Her Majesty's Secret Service

Cape, 1963.

First edition. Original boards with 'ski tracks' design on the upper cover, in pictorial dustwrapper designed by Chopping. Author's presentation copy inscribed to his close friend and playwright, Noel Coward on the front free endpaper "To Noel This slice of real Swiss life! with love Ian" A fine copy in a near fine dustwrapper, with just a trace of wear at the head of the spine.

A sensational presentation copy. Fleming and Coward first encountered one another shortly after the war: Fleming's sister in law, Celia Johnson had starred in Coward's recent Brief Encounter and both were regular attendees at parties given by Lord and Lady Rothermere. However, they didn't become well acquainted until 1948 when Coward rented Fleming's recently built Jamaican hideaway, Goldeneye, and like Fleming before him, fell in love with Jamaica to the extent that he bought a a plot just up the coast from Fleming's, where he built his own villa, Firefly. For the next seventeen years, the homes formed the epicentre of Jamaican high society and played host to a constant stream of high profile visitors from Cecil Beaton to Winston Churchill and the Queen Mother.
Coward was a constant source of encouragement and constructive criticism in Fleming's writing career and when Fleming married Ann Rothermere in 1952, Coward was one of only two wedding guests. In the same year he was made godfather to the Fleming's newborn son, Caspar.
Peter Quennell, who knew both men and visited Goldeneye throughout the 50s and 60s noted that Coward's response to "Ian's dark moods and passionate prejudices was always subtly understanding. He humoured, scolded, occasionally derided, yet somehow never did the smallest damage to Ian's ticklish amour propre. His victim, indeed, seemed positively to enjoy being teased or even ridiculed."
Such gentle mockery is in evidence in Fleming's inscription to this book. Coward had moved to the Swiss mountain town of Les Avants in 1959 and Fleming suggests, tongue in cheek, that his flight of fantasy, also set mainly in the Swiss Alps, might represent "real Swiss life".

PROVENANCE: Noel Coward (1899-1973; playwright and actor, bookplate to front pastedown).

Stock ID: 40042

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