James Bond books dedicated to Paul Gallico among star lots at library auction
on Jan 27, 2022
The first edition of ‘Diamonds Are Forever’, in which Ian Fleming thanks his friend and fellow author Paul Gallico for “spread[ing] his wings over my first-born [Casino Royale]”, is set to be auctioned on Friday as Gallico’s private library goes up for sale.
Gallico, who died in 1976, worked with Fleming as a journalist on the Sunday Times. The James Bond author sent him the initial typescript of Casino Royale to see if it was publishable; Gallico told him it was a “knockout”, adding that Fleming’s torture scene “beats everything I have ever read”, and that the novel “goes in for frankness and detail far beyond any American-type thriller and could have a big sale”. “Get out of that office kid and write,” urged the American author of novels including The Snow Goose and The Poseidon Adventure in a letter included in John Pearson’s biography of Fleming.
While his papers are at Columbia University, Gallico’s private library has remained in his island home on Antibes since his death. It reveals the closeness between the two writers: “To Paul, who spread his wings over my first-born, 1956,” writes Fleming in the first edition of Diamonds Are Forever, which is expected to fetch £12,000-£18,000 at Chiswick Auctions on 27 January. In a first edition of Casino Royale, Fleming writes “To Paul from Balzache 1953” – a play on “balls/ache”, said Chiswick Auctions.
Along with personal artefacts including Gallico’s leather Abercrombie & Fitch flying jacket from his time as a war correspondent, and his typewriters, the collection also reveals Gallico’s friendships with luminaries including Noël Coward, who wrote to him: “I was riveted by ‘Poseidon’ from beginning to end [...] I didn’t actually read it hanging upside down from a glass chandelier, but I was certainly hanging from the chandelier for several days after”. Marlene Dietrich writes in a telegram, “Thinking of you. Lonesome down under, Marlene”, while Graham Greene, a neighbor of Gallico’s on Antibes, gave him the first edition of his novel A Burnt-Out Case. The inscription reads: “For Paul Gallico – arrears for gratitudes to Antibes … From Graham Greene, 1961.”
“The collection is a tangible reminder of a writer whose presence and works continue to entertain us, inspire us, so many years after his death,” said Clive Moss, head of rare books at Chiswick Auctions, describing Gallico as “a supreme writer and talent with an enduring quality that never fails to entice and capture our attention”.
A film adaptation of Gallico’s novel Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris is due out next month.