FIRST EDITION OF MODESTY BLAISE, INSCRIBED BY PETER O'DONNELL TO AN EXPERT ON BRITISH SPY NOVELIST LEN DEIGHTON
O'DONNELL, Peter. Modesty Blaise. (London): Souvenir, (1965). Octavo, original blue paper boards, original dust jacket. $1750.
First edition of this cult classic starring Modesty Blaise, "the sexy, resourceful action hero who was a distaff answer to James Bond" (New York Times), inscribed to a recognized authority on spy novelist Len Deighton: "To Edward Milward-Oliver with my best wishes. Peter O'Donnell. September 1980."
Modesty Blaise first appeared as a British comic strip in 1963, written by Peter O'Donnell and illustrated by Jim Holdaway. Often compared to James Bond, Modesty Blaise was also born out of the trauma of the Second World War; indeed, her origin story begins with her amnesiac escape from a Greek DP camp at the end of the war and her subsequent struggle to make her way across Southern Europe and North Africa as a refugee. Unlike Bond, Blaise turns to crime and the formation of a syndicate called the Network. Eventually, Blaise retires and the real action commences as the British Secret Service enlists Blaise and her trusty sidekick, Willie Garvin, to fight and spy (honorably) on its behalf, though Blaise and Garvin remain forever tarnished by their prior involvement in the Network. This novelization of Modesty Blaise was prepared in anticipation of the 1966 film, but released a year prior to bolster interest in the film's release. Modesty Blaise was adapted into two other films made in 1982 and 2003. The titular character reappeared in 10 more novels and two short story collections, as well as a wide variety of transformative media from BBC radio to fanzines. This copy is inscribed to Edward Milward-Oliver, a longtime media executive and arts patron. The author of The Len Deighton Companion, Milward-Oliver is one of the preeminent authorities on British spy novelist Len Deighton, considered to be one of the finest writers in the genre. Milward-Oliver's interest in spy novels evidently drew him to Modesty Blaise.
Dust jacket price-clipped. A fine inscribed copy.