Did you know that Ian Fleming, author of the James Bond novels, was a passionate book collector?
In 1952, the year he wrote Casino Royale, he also launched The Book Collector magazine—which remains the only periodical in the world that deals with all aspects of the book –bibliography, typography, jacket design, libraries, catalogues, sales, the lot—there is nothing else like it.
To celebrate the 65 years since its launch the current issue is dedicated to Fleming, “the 80-a-day man, the Martini specialist, the owner of fast cars” as his nephew James, the current proprietor, puts it in an engaging essay about his uncle. There are further excellent articles– about Fleming in his less familiar role as book collector by another nephew, Fergus; memories of a great typesetter, Anne Joshua, by the magazine’s editor, Jamie Fergusson, and of Fleming’s partners in books Percy Muir and John Hayward (friend and muse of TS Eliot); there’s a checklist of the Queen Anne Press imprint– connected from the start to the magazine and still running-; a piece about Fleming’s own book collection and much else to enjoy and admire besides. It also looks beautiful and is stuffed with the kind of gorgeous expertise, sleuthing, narrative, style and detail you’d expect from a great book magazine.
In 1947, while helping his friend Robert Harling at the typographical magazine Alphabet and Image, Ian Fleming conceived the idea of a competition for the best interpretation of a twenty-seventh letter of the English alphabet. There are, for example, 74 letters in the Cambodian alphabet with a mere 13 in Hawaian Braille.
Fleming’s nephews have decided to reinstate this competition in The Book Collector—you can find full details are here.
Our languages have changed in the last 65 years and in the last 6 for that matter. In a world where you can deffo pwn some sweary sparticles who knows what new letters might be born. The winning entry will be decided by Sir Peter Blake and announced at the International Antiquarian Book Fair on 2nd June. The competition closes on 25th April.
Here at Give a Book, we’ve got our thinking caps on…..