[Robert Harling, typographer who may have served as model for James Bond.] Typed Letter Signed ('Luv Robert') to the bookseller Percy Muir, on his eightieth birthday, discussing their lives and criticising their old friend, Ian Fleming's wife Ann.

Robert Harling [Robert Henry Harling] (1910-2008), typographer, designer, journalist and novelist, friend of Ian Fleming and possible model for James Bond [Percy Muir (1894-1979), bookseller]
Publication details: 
On letterhead of The Glebe House, Godstone, Surrey. 17 January 1975.
SKU: 22075

See Harling's entry in the Oxford DNB. 2pp, 4to. In fair condition, lightly aged and worn. Folded twice. The salutation ('My dear Percy'), valediction ('Luv Robert'), and one additional word in autograph; the rest typed. He begins by thanking Muir for a copy of 'PHM 80', the volume celebrating Muir's eightieth birthday. 'Judging from the Roth picture you seem not to have changed a jot since I first met you post-war.' He finds the 'items' in the volume 'fascinating to read: from Meynell's typical promotional piece for Meynell to your offerings, ['offsprings!' added in autograph in the margin] far the most delightful and moving.' With reference to Fleming – a bibliophile who founded the 'Book Collector' magazine – he writes: 'A pity that Ian wasn't around to contribute one of his telling anecdotes of the early days.' And referring to his wife: 'A nice touch is that your birthday is the same as my Phoebe's.' He adds an astrological joke. He finds it hard to believe Muir 'as eighty, still less as retired. Or perhaps you aren't either and are just foxing.' He has, he jokes, 'always thought 80 a nice round figure to aim for as a springboard for the succeeding twenty years.' His own life 'continues much as ever, split between the Sunday Times and the glossy, with an agreeable number of sidelines, including the garden, of course.' He finds 'the constant change between those different worlds too entertaining to opt out.' He describes a family home at Majorca, which is 'ideal for scribbling novels'. 'After a wartime of movement and travel, that's now my ideal way of travelling: from one living-room to another six hours away.' He refers to his wife's 'wander-lusting' and current travels in South Africa, and gives details of his children. Turning to Fleming's wife Ann (the former Viscountess Rothermere) and only child Caspar (of whose suicide in 1975 he seems unaware) he writes: 'Annie I haven't seen for some time. She's had a lot of trouble with Caspar, but if people will push their children into boarding-school at the age of eight they shouldn't wonder why they can't communicate when the children are young men and women of eighteen. She left the little Victoria Square house where we had so many entertaining Book Collector collations and now, I believe, divides her time between Wiltshire and Albany and spending Bond money, as Ian prophesied, like ten drunken sailors on a spree.' Before concluding with renewed thanks for 'the pretty book and the subject's own calligraphical amendments', he suggests that – despite the fact that 'Suffolk and Surrey are so far apart' – they 'arrange to communicate at five-year intervals at most'. Regarding Harling and James Bond, see Ian Jack's article in the Guardian, 'Tight trousers and typography: Robert Harling, the mystery man who could have been James Bond', 10 October 2015. For Muir and Fleming see Nicolas Barker's 2017 Book Collector article 'Percy Muir: Ian Fleming's Book Dealer'.