James Bond and Harry Potter among rare editions of Paul Gallico’s books being auctioned

Guest blog by Chiswick Auctions

James Bond and Harry Potter among rare editions of Paul Gallico’s books being auctioned at Chiswick Auctions.

Paul Gallico (1897 – 1976), was one of the great storytellers and writers of the 20th century. Journalist, novelist, screenwriter, he was born in New York and died in Monaco but spent much of his life living in Saltram in Devon.

Gallico is known for writing a number of major books and films of the mid-20th century – he is probably best known for The Snow Goose, and for The Posiedon Adventure as well, with film adaptions of this made in 1973 and 2005 – and now, in 2022, we await the latest film adaptation of one of his books – Mrs Harris Goes to New York.

At Chiswick Auctions we are delighted to be able to be offering, on 27 January, Paul Gallico’s library and Estate – including a fascinating range of Gallico’s output, as well as personal notes, press cuttings artefacts and personal effects including his trusty typewriters, his war correspondent Abercrombie & Fitch flying jacket, many papers, books, press cuttings and notes.

This a fabulous opportunity to be part of the continuing story that was, and is, Paul Gallico a writer whose presence and works continue to entertain us, inspire us and entertain us so many years after his death.

Paul Gallico launched his writing career in 1919 with an interview of American champion boxer Jack Dempsey and, having asked to spar with him, Gallico then went on to describe how it felt to be knocked out.

From this start, his writing career continued to grow, moving to more general journalism then on to fiction and then selling his stories to film studios such as Walt Disney. He also found time to be a war correspondent during the Second World War.

Image above: Film poster for Dr No

Gallico, Bond and Potter

But Gallico is more than his books and films – arguably, without Gallico’s writings, enthusiasm and encouragement we would not have two of the biggest cultural phenomena of our times: Harry Potter and James Bond.

Gallico was a good friend of Ian Fleming, at the time a journalist working with him on the Sunday Times. Wanting to move out of journalism, Fleming sent an initial typescript of his first book Casino Royale to Gallico asking if it was publishable – Gallico replied to Fleming ‘The book is a knockout!’ He then helped to promote Fleming to an initially unresponsive American public.  The rest is history.

And J K Rowling? In 2002 she stated  that Gallico’s Manxmouse was one of her favourite books and the “Clutterbumph” that appears in Gallico’s book bears some resemblance to the “Boggart” character Rowling went on to create for the Harry Potter series – a being that manifests itself into whatever the viewer most fears.

Image above: Collection of Harry Potter books

Gallico and friends

Gallico also had many friends in the arts world and we have in the sale Gallico’s archive of correspondence with notable figures, ephemera and newspaper clippings, including:

  • Dame Laura Knight (1877 – 1970): four letters, three with autograph drawings: ‘As for Jennie, she also lives. What a superb imagination you have. It springs into reality in every book.’
  • David Niven (1910 – 1983): two letters: ‘Dear Mr Gallico, Yours of 17 Feb received, read and deeply resented. […] you, unless my memory fails me, once tried to take the bread out of poor ailing Jack Dempsey’s basket. Also Lennie Lyons is a c*nt… though you don’t have to quote me’; ‘[…] the other in Paris with that ugly old Italian broad – Sophia Loren!’
  • Sir Noël Coward (1900 – 1973): letter: ‘I was riveted by ‘Poseidon’ from beginning to end […] I didn’t actually read it hanging upside down from a glass chandelier but I was certainly hanging from the chandelier for several days after […]’

Images above: Casino Royale; Diamonds are Forever; A Burnt-Out Case

Other notable items for sale – James Bond, Harry Potter, Graham Greene and others

The sale also includes:

Ian Fleming – Casino Royale

First edition, first issue.  Presentation copy, inscribed by the author to ‘Paul [Gallico] from Balzache. 1953’, 1953.

Est £18,000 – £22000

*** An extremely good copy of the author’s first novel to one of his best friends; Fleming had asked Gallico to read the first typescript.  Here the blokey wordplay play on Balzac ‘balls/ache’ reflects literary jokery. (They were known as great drinking buddies!)

Ian Fleming – Diamonds are Forever

First edition, first impression, presentation copy from the author ‘To Paul, who spread his wings over my first-born’, 1956

Est. £12,000 – £18,000

*** This copy has a warm and personal inscription, referring to Fleming’s first novel Casino Royale that Gallico was instrumental in getting published

 Graham Greene – A Burnt-Out Case

First edition, inscribed ‘For Paul Gallico – arrears for gratitudes to Antibes………? from Graham Greene’, 1961

Est. £1,000 to £1,500

This is a fabulous opportunity to be part of the continuing story that was, and is, Paul Gallico – a writer whose presence and works continue to enthral, inspire and entertain us so many years after his death.  We also have many other items for sale that are books and items that are sure to interest and intrigue – we look forward to you joining us on 27 January 2022 for this important sale.


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