Ian Fleming and James Bond Manuscripts in The Schøyen Collection by Jon Gilbert

A new book by Jon Gilbert, author of the Ian Fleming Bibliography, is a comprehensive account of Ian Fleming/James Bond material held at The Schøyen Collection, London and Oslo. We caught up with Jon to ask him about the genesis of the project.

Following on from your own momentous effort with the Ian Fleming Bibliography, what drew you to this project with The Schøyen Collection?

The genesis of the collection is covered in Martin Schoyen’s detailed introduction, but briefly, we met at a bookfair in London when I was researching for the Fleming bibliography. Our stand displayed the usual selection of James Bond books, but it may have been the film posters and visual material which drew him in. Thank goodness it did! We spoke at length about book collecting and discovered a mutual interest in bibliography. This Bond collection essentially grew from there. Assembling the film scripts was both a departure and an education for me. Whilst I have bought and sold many over the years, I am not sure that they had been collected before in such a scholarly fashion. There are some highly significant items here, including manuscripts and signed material, and Ian Fleming’s own tentative early attempts at film outlines and treatments.

Ian Fleming and James Bond. Manuscripts in The Schøyen Collection Series 32. | © 2020 Adrian Harrington Rare Books

Ian Fleming and James Bond. Manuscripts in The Schøyen Collection Series 32. | © 2020 Adrian Harrington Rare Books

There are several remarkable items, not least short story manuscripts previously owned by Richard Chopping and his own final proof artwork for Goldfinger. Were these and other items not known to have existed?

Yes, the Chopping material was known, but there are other less familiar items. When producing the Bond books, Fleming and his publisher Cape had a small number of typescripts produced for editorial purposes. A copy was also supplied to the jacket designer to inform his or her cover art. Of the lesser-known or unrecorded items in The Schoyen Collection, perhaps the most curious for me is the signet ring of Pharoah Tutankhamon, which Ian Fleming owned. Like Martin, Ian Fleming was a prominent collector of books, and this ring, carved in hieroglyphs, constitutes an Egyptian manuscript ca.1336-1327BC. Fascinating!

Now with this collection, your Fleming Bibliography and the collection at the Lily Library in Indiana, is there any corner of Fleming left to tidy?

Fortunately yes, there is always more to do; certain elusive volumes are yet to be added to the ongoing bibliographical archive, and there are plenty of private collections to build. Martin has assembled an impressive collection of James Bond continuation novels and I’m minded to produce a bibliography focused on those authors. All in good time, of course.

Buy now from Adrian Harrington. Priced at £65.00. Compiled by Jon Gilbert, with an introduction by Dr Martin Schøyen and a foreword by Fergus Fleming.

Incidental Intelligence

The Ian Fleming Bibliography: Interview with Jon Gilbert

Field Report: Jon Gilbert from James Bond First Editions

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