1. What is your favorite Richard Chopping cover and why?
They’re all wonderful, of course, but I have a particular soft spot for The Spy Who Loved Me. The cover is a lesson in composition. The commando dagger is a nice nod to Fleming’s past, and Richard Chopping presents the dagger with such skill that one can almost grab it by the handle. In tribute to Richard Chopping, the cover for my James Bond cookbook, Licence to Cook, was inspired by The Spy Who Loved Me. In my version, the rose was replaced by a tomato and the dagger with an oyster knife.
2. Do you own any 1st editions?
Yes, though not as many as I’d like. I started my collection with the later novels, as they’re more affordable, and now have a complete run of 1st editions from For Your Eyes Only to Octopussy. My pride and joy is On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. The cover is very attractive, but my copy has also been signed by George Lazenby. I recently had a 1st edition Casino Royale. It was ex-library, had been rebound, and lacked the dustjacket, but it was still a 1st edition. Unfortunately I had to sell it but I feel privileged to have owned the book, even if briefly.
3. What is on your literary 007 wish list?
Apart from another 1st edition Casino Royale? Well, I mainly collect books about James Bond or Ian Fleming, and there are still a number of important works I’d like to have. I have also slowly been building up my collection of books in Bond’s library – the books that Bond reads in the novels. I don’t necessarily need 1st editions, just so long as my copies pre-date the Bond novels in which they appear.
Top of my wish list is Eric Ambler’s The Mask of Dimitrios, which Bond reads in From Russia With Love.
4. When did you read your first Bond novel and what was it?
I read my first Bond novel when I was 12 or 13. It was either On Her Majesty’s Secret Service or The Spy Who Loved Me. They were book club editions (whose covers I think are really striking), and my grandparents had them on their bookshelf. I was drawn to the books because I knew of James Bond from the films. It didn’t matter that The Spy Who Loved Me wasn’t anything like the film – I was hooked by the writing, and for me the last third of the book was edge-of-the-seat stuff. I still have those very same copies, and they’ve now been joined by the book club editions of the other titles.
5. What is your favorite Fleming Bond novel?
Possibly On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, because it’s a great plot, has exciting skiing action, and the start is terrific – Bond’s letter of resignation is a delicious piece of writing. Of course, reading the book always takes me back to my childhood, so I guess that helps too. I must say, though, I think Octopussy is a very fine short story, and arguably Fleming’s best writing.
6. Do you have any favorite Bond dust jackets in paperback?
Just as one’s favorite Bond actor tends to be the actor one grew up with (so for me that’s Roger Moore!), my favorite jackets are the girl-on-guns series published by Triad Panther, which are the editions I read as a teenager.
Having said that, some of the Pan covers brilliantly capture the essence of Bond, and I also rather like the more recent Richie Fahey series for Penguin.
Edward Biddulph is the author of ‘James Bond memes’, a blog which examines Fleming’s writing, the Bond films and the Bond phenomenon. He is also the author of Licence to Cook, a James Bond cookbook, as well as a number of Bond-related articles. Edward is an archaeologist based in Oxford, UK, and has several academic papers and monographs to his name.
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Check out Edward’s Licence to Cook: Recipes Inspired by Ian Fleming’s James Bond – The print edition is also available on Amazon, while the digital edition is also available via Barnes and Noble and iBookstore. Written by blog author Edward Biddulph, this cookbook is full of exciting recipes inspired by the food that Bond eats in the novels and short stories.