Waugh and Ian Fleming

In an article published in the Guardian, Nicholas Lezard reviews the recent collection of Ian Fleming’s letters entitled The Man with the Golden Typewriter. This is edited by Fergus Fleming, author of several books and Fleming’s  nephew (son of his younger brother Richard). Waugh is mentioned briefly in the review as having offered Fleming “advice on how best to recuperate from a heart attack (‘Be sucked off gently every day’).” This is quoted in a letter from Fleming to his publisher William Plomer, dated 30 April 1961. Whether the advice was offered in person or in a letter is unclear.

There are several other references to Waugh in the book not mentioned in the review. Perhaps the most interesting appears in Fergus Fleming’s introductory text (p. 11) where he describes his uncle’s establishment of Queen Anne Press. At the time, Fleming had written but not published his first James Bond novel, Casino Royale. He approached Waugh for a contribution to his new publishing venture, and Waugh agreed at first to a collection of reviews to be called Offensive Matters. In a response Fleming suggested a “short introduction on the virtue of being offensive and the decline of invective.” In the end, Waugh contributed the text of what became The Holy Places based on his article about the Middle East for Life magazine. Waugh is quoted as having described the book as “a great balls-up of a little book of mine [by] Ian Fleming’s idiot printing press.”

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