Tom J Cull talks about knowing 007 cover illustrator Richard Chopping as a child and how he continues to find new things in Ian Fleming’s books.
When and how did you first get bitten by the Bond bug?
Well, there is no one thing really and it has evolved over time. I was lucky enough to know Richard Chopping (Fleming’s book jacket illustrator) as a child and Ian Fleming also worked for my great grandfather’s stockbroking firm in the 1930s. These connections certainly piqued my interest and I had always liked the Bond films and books, but I think it was probably Ian Fleming’s short stories that hooked me on his writing. Over the years, I keep finding new things in the books, which is astonishing really.
What’s your favourite item in your collection and why?
I’m more of a literary Bond collector but am not a collector in the classic sense. I like to get book signed by an author and I am particularly proud of owning signed editions from Andrew Lycett, Anthony Horowitz and Trevor Scobie.
I certainly collect any rare book about Ian Fleming such as Anthony Terry’s letters to Fleming, which were privately published in New Zealand and many out of print books.
Certainly the most expensive item I have is the Bentley Edition of Casino Royale, which I am terrified of handling, so it remains in it’s box!
What item would you most like to add?
Many. I am hoping to acquire Jon Gilbert’s Ian Fleming Bibliography soon and at some point I would love to own the complete works of Ian Fleming published by the Queen Anne Press.
Perhaps the Holy Grail would be Sable Basilisk of which only 5 or 6 copies are rumoured to exist. This was a book published by Robin de la Lanne Mirrlees who corresponded with Ian Fleming during his research into heraldry for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
What’s your biggest obstacle to collecting, or is there a tip you’d like to share?
Money is always a factor in collecting Bond these days. Scarcity also in regards to out of print books, so it can be hit and miss.
Keep on reading Bond!