Fleming on Chopping

On first approaching Chopping:

“I want to commission you to paint me a picture which afterwards can be used as a cover for one of my books. First of all, will you please do the jacket and, secondly, will you please have a brilliant idea?”

“I decided to approach Dickie Chopping, who is probably the finest trompe-l’oeil painter in the world and for whose work I have a great admiration.”

Fleming inscribed the 1957 book From Russia With Love:

“To Dickie Chopping/The Executioner/From Ian.”

and later commented:

“The Chopping jacket was a tremendous success, both in England and America, and from that day on he and I and Michael Howard of Cape’s have devised all the James Bond jackets, which have now become something of a hallmark with the book trade and have earned prizes for Cape’s.”

He also told him in a 1956 letter:

“Of one thing I am certain. Your picture will vastly help to sell the book”.

Imperial25On March 18, 1959, Fleming wrote to Chopping referring to the Goldfinger cover and his upcoming work For Your Eyes Only.

‘The new jacket is quite as big a success as the first one and I do think Cape [Fleming’s publisher Jonathan Cape] have made a splendid job of it…I am busily scratching my head trying to think of a subject for you again. No one in the history of thrillers has had such a totally brilliant artistic collaborator!’

“First of all a thousand congratulations on the new jacket. It is quite in your topmost class and Annie loves it also. You and I are really a wonderful team.”

On July 20, 1960, Fleming asked Chopping if he would illustrate his next book, Thunderball:

“Dear Dickie. Warmest thanks for your charming letter of July 29, and I am delighted that you will have a bash at the new jacket. 

“I will ask Michael Howard [of Jonathan Cape] to produce an elegant skeleton hand and an elegant Queen of Hearts. As to the dagger, I really have no strong views. I had thought of the ordinary flick knife as used by teenagers on people like you and me, but if you have a nice dagger in mind please let us use it. The title of the book will be Thunderball. It is immensely long, immensely dull and only your jacket can save it!’

‘Two cards will definitely be better than one, and the second card should be an ace  –  perhaps the Ace of Spades  –  if you can bear the additional labour. Secondly, I think, unless you feel otherwise, that the Queen of Diamonds would be better that the Queen of Hearts as money is a keynote of the book.’

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