It may surprise you that the author best known as the creator of James Bond, also wrote the much loved children’s book Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang.
Ian Fleming wrote the novel for his son Caspar but did not live to see it published before he died in August 1964. Illustrated by award-winning children’s book illustrator John Burningham, it was originally issued in three volumes by Jonathan Cape and has been fascinating young boys and girls for fifty years.
We were delighted to pop by the anniversary party, held at Henry Sotheran Ltd. Guests got the opportunity to see the book and meet the team behind the celebrations.
Queen Anne Press have launch a facsimile of the original Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang, to mark the 50th anniversary of the publication (of the final volume). The standard edition of three volumes in a slipcase will be available for £125, while 50 special editions, bound in cloth with gold blocking and accompanied by a portfolio containing two prints signed and numbered by John Burningham, will cost £600 each.
If you thought that the car was simply a figment of Fleming’s imagination, you may be interested to hear that he based it on an aero-engined racing car built by Count Louis Zborowski in the early 1920s on his estate near Canterbury. Using machinery from redundant Zeppelins the machine was painted grey, shaped like a torpedo, and scored several record-breaking triumphs before crashing disastrously in 1922.
When Fleming’s favourite cartoonist ‘Trog’ (Wally Faulkes) was unable to take it on the publishers commissioned John Burningham for the project. Fleming died on the 12th August 1964, his son Caspar’s twelfth birthday. The first Chitty was published in October 1964 by Jonathan Cape, the second in November and the final volume in January 1965. In 1968 it was adapted as a film using a script written by his friend Roald Dahl.
The imprint, Queen Anne Press, was originally owned by Lord Kemsley, proprietor of the Sunday Times. In 1952 he handed control to the paper’s Foreign Manager, Ian Fleming, as a wedding present. Its eclectic variety of publications included works by Cyril Connolly, T.S. Eliot, Patrick Leigh Fermor and Evelyn Waugh.
Befitting Fleming’s status as a bibliophile, it was also the original publisher of the journal, The Book collector. Fleming remained at the helm until his death in 1964. Queen Anne Press was subsequently absorbed by Robert Maxwell’s publishing empire and became an imprint specialising in sports books. In 2007 it was acquired by Fleming’s literary estate, and is now managed by his niece, Kate Grimond, and his nephew, Fergus Fleming.