Amazing archive consisting of ten items: six ALSs, one TLS with a handwritten postscript; two ANSs, and an unsigned photograph of Fleming. The letters’ recipient is not specifically named in their greetings, but research has indicated that each is to Edith Morpurgo, an Austrian girlfriend. Unless noted otherwise, each is on stationery imprinted “London Wall 8950. / 11, Throgmorton Avenue, / London, E.C.2. / 193_.” The archive includes:
(1) Four-page ALS in German on two adjoining sheets, signed “Ian,” 4.5 x 7. He has headed the first page, “First drawing: ‘where I would like to kiss you.’” Between the pair of eyes and pair of feet, he’s placed four x’s. Fleming continues, “Second: ‘I want to be with you” and draws a door with a “Do Not Disturb” sign. Two pairs of shoes, one man’s, the other woman’s, are outside the door. The letter is penned on the next three pages. In full (translated): “I am not going to say anything further to you, only tell you that I --- you. If I say ‘love’ you will only give me an argument and then I will have to whip you but that would make you cry and I don’t want that. I only want you to be happy. Just the same, I should hurt you, because you deserve that, to tame you (?) like a little wild animal. So, you better watch out. I would like nothing better than sleeping with you, do nothing but wrap my arms around and hold you tight, finding you still there when I wake up. It has to be sunny, though! Where are we going to find the sun in this dreary country? It only depends on you and the sun that the two of us will be laughing again. It would be so easy to be much more. I am kissing you on all the spots that you declared off limits and remain with the German Salute Your Ian. PS. Are you snoring?”
(2) Four-page ALS in German on two adjoining sheets, signed “Ian,” 4.5 x 7. London, circa 1935. Torn into over 20 pieces, ostensibly by Edith. Reassembled with old clear glass tape. In full (translated): “You know, I actually don’t like your friends very much, because I am a little jealous of them, knowing how you enjoy being with them. I know, I cannot keep you in a cage like a bird and you are free to come and go as you please, for your life here has been so empty. Granted, I don’t always carry on as you expect me to. This is very sad, because we have been good for one another and I loved you very much in my very own way. But now that you are leaving I wish everything had turned out differently. I believe being here has been good for you and perhaps being in Vienna won’t make you happy. You have changed so much and I am not so sure that you are ready to brave life in Vienna. But that is all nonsense and you will only laugh about, complain that I just talk too much. Perhaps you are right at that, but you do upset me, because you are always so opinionated. I just cannot argue like that with you and deep down I enjoy seeing you getting ticked off too, for I know in the end we make up again and all will be forgotten. At the same time I am sad, because you gave me so much—not just physically—and I am now much richer than before. You have so much that others don’t have. It would be such a pity losing all that in Vienna. You are a sweet, sweet darling and I am happy with you and over everything we had. I am kissing you everywhere, in particular [he’s drawn four x’s representing the four parts of her body indicated in the previous letter] and hold you tight until you are squealing. Your Ian. P.S. This letter is ridiculous, but it’s all your fault!”
(3) Four-page ALS in pencil in German on two adjoining sheets, signed “Ian,” 4.5 x 7. Written as Edith is leaving him. In part (translated): “You, if you intended to hurt me, you did succeed and you can be proud having put such an ugly end to our friendship. I cannot believe you really wanted to do that. I also don’t believe you truly had such thoughts about me. You are used to seeing the worst in everybody. That is dreadful…I felt like a child who has a mean governess. In the end I could do nothing right, everything was taken as a personal insult by you. I wanted to make you happy and leave you in peace. I did not succeed in that. Even this intention of mine you don’t want to admit…Dearest, dearest one, you brought me so much joy. I was so happy with you, seeing that you slowly recovered. The moments we had together cannot be erased by a mouthful of cuss words. Taken away by this is only my belief I helped you making a step in the right direction on your life’s journey.
You are leaving now poorer than you were when you came—even less prepared resuming your life in Vienna and that is terrible. I cannot believe you are meaning all this in earnest. Again lies and deceit, you will be thinking. Only one thing I want to impress on you—show a little humility and empathy, if you don’t have that, your life will be without joy and peace. Granted, you are having a very difficult life, my dearest, just don’t make it any more difficult by refusing to learn to forgive. Don’t let bitterness stay in your heart. Keep some of the goodness of those days. I beg of you, my poor dear one.”
(4) Three-page ALS in pencil in German on two adjoining sheets, signed “Ian,” 4.5 x 7. Written as Edith is returning from Vienna. In full (translated): “What can I say, dearest? Your writings just don’t make any sense to me. It is perhaps because I don’t know your language well enough, I have to express myself in simple ways. The real bad things I don’t dare to put on paper anyway. My drawing skills are poorer still. Just the same, dear, isn’t it great the way things are between us now. I am looking forward to seeing you again and I want you to stay here. It was indeed different at first, you were sick. Now we have to start living sensibly, you have to get to know a whole new world—without Thonet—without Meinl—even without Reny. Believe me, it will be worth it for your entire life. You really need to make a fresh start and I will take care of you, perhaps spoil you and you will be calming down. You really will be needing little money, beloved, and I beg of you, do not worry about that. I am kissing you, and I am happy. YOUR Ian.” (Thonet, Mein, and Reny refer to a furniture store, delicatessen, and hairdressing salon, respectively, which Edith frequented in Vienna.)
(5) Two-page TLS in German on two adjoining sheets, with a handwritten postscript signed “Ian,” 4.5 x 7. Fleming has tipped a printed letter in German to the first page above which he typed “April 2. 1935” and “Revered Frau Baroness!” and concluded by typing “Ian Fleming Esq,.”
Edith has returned to Vienna. The printed letter reads, in full (translated): “In response to your kind inquiry of the 18th of last month, we are pleased to quote as follows:—
6 doz. Woolen under shirts (long sleeves) small man’s size, 36s per doz.
6 doz. Woolen under shirts (short sleeves), extra man’s size, 36s per doz.
6 doz. Woolen under pants, small man’s size, 36s per doz.
6 doz. Woolen under pants, extra man’s size, 36s per doz.
12 doz. Socks, fancy pattern, 9½ to 11 inch, 12s 6d per doz.
Terms: Minus 10% export discount and 2½% for cash on delivery payment. Free shipment to your packer.
You will notice, prices quoted above are considerably below your limit. We are offering these qualities because we are convinced they are the best available on the market at these prices. These goods were manufactured according to our new Sphinxdessin method and are guaranteed not to shrink. The wool retains softness and elasticity for the duration of the garment, making them very pleasant to wear. Their use is not only economical but also recommended for health reasons, as the material allows perspiration to escape freely. They are easy care for garments, just need to be laundered and rinsed, without the fabric getting matted.
We are confident you will be impressed by these striking advantages, combined with the modest prices and that you will consider our goods highly desirable. Your friends will find these garments far superior over what is currently available on the German market.
As you don’t state a specific color preference, we assume you would go for the popular natural shade. In your order, please state specifics in that regard. We stock considerable quantities in all standard colors. Please mention, in case your customer should have a preference for a particular color nuance. We are looking forward to your order and assure you of our most courteous service.” Fleming has then typed “Ian Fleming Esq,.”
On pages 2 and 3, Fleming has typed, in full (translated): “I will only buy the castle if you will be living with me there. Well, will you make the sacrifice or not—everything included, naturally. Oberstadtteppin [a term of endearment], the dust is sitting a meter high in the flat. I have not been there since the day you left and there are certain to be letters for you there. Even your flowers should still be there. When are you coming back to clean it all up? You can have it if you want and I promise I shall not ‘molest’ you, no need to watch out for my lies. Please, Edith, do come. I cannot use the flat anyhow, because it still stinks of you (perhaps I should have put it more delicately by saying ‘your fragrance still lingers’). What’s more, there is no other candidate available. Or are you taking your calling in the medical field too seriously? In case you are interested, I am leading the same life as you, just to a lesser degree so. The only thing that unsettled me was learning that you are MOR and not MO – since when? Or have you been here incognito? I always called you Mopurgo, you are living in my memory as Mopurgo and Mopurgo you shall remain, rail against it as much as you wish. Therefore ‘bull to you’ (English saying) respectively, L.M.A.A. (German saying), accept it.”
Fleming concludes the letter in black ink, signing in red ink: “No, seriously, my dearest, come back to the flat and I will leave you in peace. I want you to see that this time I did not lie to you.” He’s drawn four red x’s representing the four parts of her body where he’d like to kiss her and signed “Ian.”
(6) ANS in German, signed “Ian,” 4.5 x 7. In full (translated): “Mine—I only want to kiss you and say nothing. It does not make sense, but I am sending you the pieces of my HEART!!!! Curtain! Ian” With the original envelope, 5 x 3.75, addressed by Fleming in German: “Love letter to my dearest Zazilie.” He’s drawn a “stamp” in the upper right corner resembling a German eagle. Torn open at top.
(7) ANS in German in pencil, one page, 4.5 x 7. On stationery imprinted “St. James’ Club / Piccadilly, W.1.” In full (translated): “I kiss you xx.” Not signed.
(8) ANS in German in pencil, one page, 7 x 4.5. In full (translated): “7.30 come back Kisses for my dearest ‘oberstadtteppin’”
(9) Printed Telegram, one page, 8.25 x 5.25. “Post Office Telegraphs.” London, Western Ditrict Office, December 7, 1934. In pencil, not in Fleming’s hand. In full (translated): “Mopurgo 43 Marylebone Lane. Regret this evening impossible goodbye with all my love, Ian.”
(10) Unsigned photograph of Ian Fleming. Black & white, 7.5 x 6.25. Fleming is sitting on a mountaintop in the Austrian Alps. Paper frame (nicked at top) affixed to its perimeter upon which is penned in the upper portion in German in an unknown hand (possibly Edith’s): “The Father of James Bond 007, a friend 1934 in Austria.” The archive is in overall fine condition, the exception being one letter which was evidently torn up and taped back together many years ago.
While working for a successful stock brokerage in the 1930s, Fleming began his pursuit of Miss Edith Morpurgo, an enigmatic Austrian woman who he continued to romance for the next several years. This highly personal collection of letters reveals the highs and lows of their passionate relationship, alternating between playfully affectionate declarations of love—“I would like nothing better than sleeping with you, do nothing but wrap my arms around and hold you tight, finding you still there when I wake up”—and deep sadness over a broken relationship—“this is very sad, because we have been good for one another and I loved you very much in my very own way. But now that you are leaving I wish everything had turned out differently.” His command over the German language, as displayed in these letters, filled with nuanced wordplay and crafty expression, would lead directly to his secretive position in World War II, infiltrating German territory to carry out missions of espionage and intrigue that would form the basis of the James Bond series. An outstanding archive of heartfelt and passionate words from the highly sought after author, honing his skills with the language that would play a crucial role in his career. RR Auction COA.
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.