1) When/why did you start your James Bond collection?
My serious interest in collecting Fleming's books and related authors goes back not only to my love of them but also a personal connection. Fleming worked for my Great Grandfather at Cull & Co. a merchant bank up until the mid 1930s. His time there was brief as he realized he wasn't much cut out for it, but it's a proud footnote in my association with him.
Also, due to my family's friendship with Richard Chopping while I was growing up, I've since been interested in collecting everything he illustrated and wrote. Some of these include 'The Fly', 'The Ring' 'The Fourth of June', 'The Saturday Book' and Puffin Book's 'Butterflies of Britain'.
However my collection is fairly fledgling and so far it's been mainly books I simply want to read, as opposed to collectables or acquiring sets - no doubt this will come!
I've also collected some books as sources of reference; a quote here, a reminder there or the genesis for a blog post on Artistic License Renewed most commonly.
2) What books do you collect?
I tend to go for the ones I can afford and house the expensive ones on ebay or amazon wish lists! I do like paperbacks with good artwork, so Hawkey or the 2006 Penguin editions come to mind. I also like collecting books with introductions by authors - again the 2006 Penguin editions have some good ones. Also I'd like to get my hands on the Anthony Burgess introduction from 1988 (fact check!) and a couple of Omnibus Editions with very intellectual intros by Candia McWilliam and the late, great Christopher Hitchens.
I collect books on Fleming too. Pearson Lycett's are essential items but there a few other good ones on Fleming out there still. I'm also intrigued by incidental books involving Fleming, such as his wife Ann's letters and biographies of people he either worked with or knew socially, such as Patrick Leigh Fermor, Graham Greene, Roald Dahl, Ivar Bryce and others. Fleming is not always the most interesting thing in them, but it's fun to get some anecdotes to round of the picture.
I also like to collect some of the critical analysis of Fleming's books from the 60s including Kingsley Amis' James Bond Dossier and O.F. Snelling's 007 A Report. Both absolute gems.
3) What is the "holy grail" of your Bond collecting?
Where to begin!
Apart from having all the 1st edition novels (or even reprints) I'd like to get my hands on 'Bond Bound', the Jon Gilbert Bibliography and the Casino Royale Bentley Edition. I'd also like a 1st edition of the book my blog took its name and Richard Chopping's last Bond dust jacket, which would be 'License Renewed'.
Perhaps the 'Holy Grail' might be 'Talk of the Devil', which is a collection of rarely-seen journalism and other writing by Ian Fleming. It belongs to a special edition of his complete works published in 2008 by Queen Anne Press to commemorate the centenary of his birth.
There are a few very rare items out there which he had a hand in illustrating including an extraordinarily ambitious and unfinished complete illustrated A-Z of Britain's Flora. It was perhaps Penguin's greatest failure as the plug was pulled on it after realizing it would exceed 20 volumes. Richard (Dicky) only painted up to the "Cs". I was told by his estate guardian that he sold off what art work he had produced in the galleries in the 1960s and had no examples of his paintings left when he died. If anyone today has these, they should know what they are sitting on.
I would also love to have some of the letter correspondence between Chopping and Fleming but unless I become a millionaire, I'm content to just know that they are in safe hands somewhere, which I hope they are.