Jonathan Cape, London, 1961
First edition, first impression. With the author's signed presentation inscription to the front free endpaper, "To Margot from Ian Fleming"; a fascinating presentation. The recipient was the wife of Jack Whittingham, who wrote an original Bond film screenplay named Thunderball, a collaborative project that predated the book. Fleming used the screenplay as the unacknowledged basis for his novel of the same name, but signed a film agreement instead with Eon Productions, leaving Whittingham and his producer, Kevin McClory, out in the cold and with a pronounced grievance. The resulting court case in November 1963 is said to have broken Fleming's health, leading to his premature death from heart complications in August 1964. As a result of the court settlement, future versions of the novel gave the credit, "based on the screen treatment by Kevin McClory, Jack Whittingham, and Ian Fleming" (in that order). The inscription suggests that at the time of publication Fleming had little idea how much the book had offended the Whittingham family; or it may reflect the fact that, as Jack Whittingham had recently and openly embarked on an affair with a 17-year-old model, his long-suffering wife was unlikely to be sympathetic to his cause.
Octavo. Original dark grey boards, titles to spine gilt, skeletal hand motif on front board blind stamped. With the dust jacket. Housed in a black quarter morocco solander box made by The Chelsea Bindery.
A few minor spots to the fore edge but an excellent copy in the very slightly rubbed dust jacket.
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