Edward Biddulph attends book launch at the London Library marking the 70th anniversary of Casino Royale.
The London Library was the sumptuous setting for a double-O celebration of Ian Fleming and James Bond, organised by Ian Fleming Publications. The event was a double celebration, because, held on 13th April, it marked the 70th anniversary to the day of the publication of Ian Fleming’s first James Bond adventure, Casino Royale. The event also launched the new set of Bond novels (plus Ian Fleming’s two works of non-fiction), now published by Ian Fleming Publications (IFP) and boasting stunning cover designs by Webb & Webb.
Gathering in one of the library’s reading rooms (which happened to house dictionaries and all sorts of reference works – Ian Fleming, language buff that he was, would have been very content), guests were treated to Champagne and canapés as they mingled and chatted about all things Bond and Fleming. It was a well-attended, somewhat cosy, event, providing a rare chance for Bond aficionados to literally rub shoulders with the Casino Royalty of the Bond world, Bond authors Steve Cole, Charlie Higson and Kim Sherwood among them.
Part-way through the evening, Simon Ward of IFP introduced Ian Fleming’s niece, Kate Grimond, who spoke of the birth of Bond and noted the coincidence that both the publication of Casino Royale and its 70th anniversary have preceded coronations. Kate was joined by Lucy Fleming, Ian’s niece also, who gave readings from the books. They were followed by Corinne Turner, managing director of IFP, who talked about the decision to bring Bond ‘home’ to IFP’s own imprint and update the texts. While interesting and difficult conversations were had preparing the books for publication, the team was always guided by the question, ‘what would Ian do?’
After a toast to Ian and James, it back to the celebration and an opportunity to admire the items of Flemingiana that Ian Fleming Publications and the London Library put on display, among them first edition copies of Casino Royale and the Birds of the West Indies, the book that gave Ian Fleming’s hero his name. There was also a copy of Burke’s General Armory – the volume that Bond takes with him to Piz Gloria in his guise as heraldry expert Sir Hilary Bray – and a facsimile of Ian Fleming’s application for membership of the library. (Incidentally, Bond producer Cubby Broccoli was also a member.)
Several hours later, the party wound down as guests began to leave (taking with them a Bond-themed goodie bag), happy not only in the golden glow of Champagne, but with the knowledge that James Bond was safe for another 70 years at least.
All photos copyright Edward Biddulph.
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