FASCINATING 1959 TYPED LETTER ADDRESSED AND SIGNED BY IAN FLEMING TO PLAYBOY EXECUTIVE EDITOR RAY RUSSELL THANKING RUSSELL FOR HIS OFFER TO PROMOTE FOR YOUR EYES ONLY, UPDATING HIM ON THE PUBLICATION STATUS OF THE BOOK, AND DISCUSSING RUSSELL'S RECENT GIFT TO HIM, THE PERMANENT PLAYBOY
FLEMING, Ian. Typed letter signed. London, December 14, 1959. Single sheet of letterhead, measuring 8 by 10 inches; p. 1. $8500.
Outstanding 1959 typed signed letter from Ian Fleming to Ray Russell, the executive editor of Playboy, thanking Russell for offering to promote Fleming's next book, sharing news about the publication of "For Your Eyes Only," expressing gratitude for a copy of "The Permanent Playboy," and informing Russell of Fleming's upcoming trip to Jamaica, accompanied by Russell's typed preceding letter on newsprint discussing changes to one of Fleming's writings awaiting publication in Playboy and sending a copy of The Permanent Playboy, mentioned in the later letter.
The letter, typed on "Kemsley House London, W.C. 1" letterhead and addressed and signed by Fleming in blue ballpoint pen, reads: "14th December, 1959. [Autograph salutation] My dear Ray, It was nice to see your austere writing paper ('note paper' is, of course non-U) and it is very kind indeed of you to offer to give my next book a shove. Actually inspired by many American and British friends, I changed publishers within a couple of days of seeing you and I am now published by Viking who will bring this next book 'For Your Eyes Only' out in the Spring, and my agent is now Phyllis Jackson of M.C.A. I will send her a copy of this letter for her to pass on your kindly suggestion to Viking. I am longing to get The Permanent Playboy. This will be just my stuff for family and friends at Christmas, for which happy time I send you appropriate curses. I am off to Jamaica for two months on January 3rd but pray continue to keep in touch from time to time. With a poisoned kiss to Playgirl 1960. [signed] Yours ever Ian." Macmillan had previously marketed the Bond books in America, but Fleming decided to go down a new path with For Your Eyes Only. Published in 1960, the collection of five stories related Jame Bond's latest adventures in France, the Caribbean, South America, and East Africa. Its publication followed Fleming's prolific period between 1953 and 1959, during which he published at least one novel a year. For Your Eyes Only was well-received, with critics commenting on Fleming's literary homage to W. Somerset Maugham in "Quantum of Solace," as well as Bond's (overdue) character development. The letter to Russell ends with a mention of Jamaica, one of Fleming's favorite writing spots and the location of his vacation home, known as Goldeneye. The accompanying preceding letter from Russell, typed on a newsprint with a faint impression of the Playboy bunny stamp in the masthead, reads: "December 10, 1959. Dear Ian, Nonsense. You look ravishing in those pictures. All the girls here say so. The changes have been incorporated into the manuscript of THE HILDEBRAND RARITY. Thanks. You mention correcting page proofs of the book. I assume this is the British edition. When will it be published. Does MacMillan plan an American edition in 1960? We might be able to plug the American edition if we knew beforehand. I'm sending you, just for kicks, a copy of the recently published hardbound book, THE PERMANENT PLAYBOY. You probably won't have much time to read it, but if you ever do dip into it, I think you will find a lot of entertaining stuff therein. Thanks much for your words on circulation in England. I'm extracting that portion of your letter and am passing it on to our circulation people here. All the best, Ray Russell Executive Editor." The risque photographs mentioned in the letter were taken during Fleming's 1959 visit to the Playboy offices in Chicago. Russell also mentions "The Hildebrand Rarity," an original Bond caper published in the March 1960 issue of Playboy, for which Fleming was still submitting textual changes at the time of this letter. Fleming served as the Foreign Manager of the Kemsley newspaper group, parent company of the Sunday Times, between 1945 and 1959. In this capacity, he supervised and facilitated all of the newspaper's foreign correspondents—and occasionally interacted with his stateside counterparts like Ray Russell at Playboy. It was while working this day job that Fleming conceived of James Bond and wrote the first installment of the series, Casino Royale, while on vacation in Jamaica. In 1959, Fleming took a tour of the world's most cosmopolitan urban centers for serial feature in the Sunday Times. Fleming wrote to Ray Russell, the executive editor at Playboy, seeking out the "seamier side" of Chicago, and his ensuing discoveries doubtlessly informed his future spy stories. Russell, Fleming's Chicago contact, was a writer in the Gothic tradition and horror sub-genre, in addition to his work at Playboy. Russell's most famous short story, "Sardonicus," was published in Playboy in 1961. This letter is from the estate of Ray Russell.
Original folds and slight hint of staple offsetting. About-fine condition.