IT PROMISES to be the ultimate Christmas guide for fans of Britain’s favourite spy – and his enigmatic creator.
Ian Fleming’s surviving relatives have helped to compile the most comprehensive guide to the writer’s colourful life, the development of the James Bond novels and their enduring influence.
But it will set fans back £175 to lay their hands on the lavish bibliography, which has been four years in the making and runs to more than 750 pages.
It explores Fleming’s richly varied life, as a journalist, travel writer, stockbroker and Royal Navy intelligence officer – the job that famously inspired him to pen his first Bond novel, Casino Royale, which he wrote 60 years ago. It was published on 13 April, 1953.
Charting every stage of his career, the new bibliography is said to feature every aspect of Fleming’s writing, from his earliest Bond manuscripts, typescripts and uncorrected proofs to rarely seen travel articles. Material held by Fleming archives and enthusiasts around the world has been brought together for the massive tome, while anecdotes been collected by many of Fleming’s surviving relatives, former colleagues and close confidants.
Included are more than 1,000 illustrations, including the rarest of book covers, as well as numerous photographs of Fleming throughout his life.
Detailed sections on all 14 of the Bond books, which were released over the course of just 13 years, are included, with “back stories” on each of the spy’s adventures and what helped to inspire Fleming.
Although born in London in 1908 and educated at Eton, Fleming could trace Scottish roots back to Dundee, where his grandfather, Robert, became a wealthy investment banker, although his great-grandfather, John, had initially struggled to eke out a living from working in a jute mill.
The author’s Dundonian forebears played a key influence in Bond’s many Scottish connections, including having a Scottish father, who hailed from Glen Coe, and attending Fettes College in Edinburgh,
Details of the new book have been unveiled ahead of the release of the latest Bond film, Skyfall, this weekend.
Bond expert and Fleming enthusiast Jon Gilbert, who has compiled the bibliography, said: “Ian Fleming is best known as the creator of Bond, an icon of 20th-century popular culture, but he was also a journalist, publisher, travel writer, motor enthusiast, card player, golfer and noted bibliophile.
“Much has been written about Fleming and his legendary creation, but until now there has been no serious bibliographical account of his published work.”
The archives of Eton College, the Imperial War Museum, the British Library and the Fleming Collection in London were all trawled to ensure the widest possible selection of the author’s work.
Fergus Fleming, the author’s nephew, who helped with the research, wrote the introduction.
He said: “The bibliography is a refreshing reminder of just how important Ian Fleming’s works are and how deeply they have influenced so many people.
“While the films play a major role in perpetuating his legacy, it is the physical books that touch our hearts.”
President Michael Vanblaricum, of the Ian Fleming Foundation in the US, added: “The book discusses Fleming’s approach to writing, how he got his ideas, where some of the iconic names came from and much more.”