From Overdrive magazine.
Long before James Bond was driving Aston Martins in Ian Fleming's books, 007 was the proud owner of a 1930 4 ½-litre supercharged Bentley Blower.
Now, the iconic manufacturer is making 12 "brand-new" cars based on the original pre-war race cars, on which Bond's vehicle was very closely based. In fact, assembly of the very first engineering prototype has just begun, after a year of development. All 12 of the Blowers have already been accounted for, at an unspecified price rumoured to be over £1.5 million each.
If you think that's a high price, consider that the original run of four racing 4 ½-litre Blowers built by Sir Tim Birkin, one of the legendary 'Bentley Boys', have sold for well over that in auction. Birkin went on to make 50 more Blowers between 1929-1931, of which Bond's car was one. The Bentley Blowers are considered one of the Britain's finest racing cars, even though it's only its successor that was actually garnered victories for the brand in endurance racing.
Each new Blower Continuation will be painstakingly crafted by the Bentley Mulliner team from new parts, laser-scanned and faithfully reproduced from a complete teardown of one of the original cars, Blower No.2, as raced by Birkin himself at Le Mans.
And except for some safety upgrades, each new Blower will be an exact replica of the original. Complementing the 3D-scanned parts is information gleaned from the original technical drawings for the Blower from the 1920s, and some of the original toolings as well.
Currently, the Mulliner team and selected artisans have put together a new chassis from heavy-gauge steel, engine with its Amherst Villiers supercharger, radiator and assorted body fitments, including the headlights and fuel tank from steel and copper.
Some of the noteworthy details of the 4.4-litre four-cylinder racing engine which produced a heady 240PS include its aluminium pistons, overhead camshaft, and four-valve with twin spark ignition layout, not to mention the roots-style supercharger sitting proud at the front of the engine.
It was enough to take the 1.9-tonne Blower on to a top speed in excess of 210kmph, though a keen Bond-fan will know the spy has only ever taken it up to 175kmph in Fleming's Casino Royale.
British author William Boyd believes he has discovered the London home of James Bond, after researching the character’s creator Ian Fleming and his famous books for clues.
Fleming wrote a total of 14 Bond books but never revealed exactly where the secret agent lived, other than noting it was in the Chelsea neighbourhood.
But after re-reading all 14 before penning his own Bond continuation novel “Solo” in 2013, Boyd said he suspects the spy lives at number 25, Wellington Square, in Chelsea.
“That’s where James Bond’s flat was,” the writer said in an essay published in the Times Literary Supplement, detailing how he settled on the address.
“Obviously, James Bond is a fictional character and didn’t actually live anywhere,” he added. “However, it is strange how in the case of some fictional characters a kind of reality begins to take over their lives, as if they really did live and breathe, had an actual address and a mortgage.”
Boyd deployed sleuthing skills worthy of Bond himself to hunt down his home.
He began his mission with Fleming’s 1955 novel “Moonraker”, which describes it as “a comfortable flat in a plane-tree’d square off the King’s Road” — a famous street in Chelsea.
He used those details and some crucial coordinates in “Thunderball” (1961) — that the flat was a quick drive up the road to Hyde Park — to narrow the choice down to Wellington Square.
Boyd then examined Fleming’s social circle when he lived in London. The Bond creator was also a foreign editor at the Sunday Times newspaper, and Boyd discovered that a colleague at the newspaper, chief book reviewer Desmond MacCarthy, and his wife owned the flat at number 25, Wellington Square.
The couple were “legendary entertainers and their home became a kind of salon”, according to Boyd, who noted they were also acquainted with one of Fleming’s close friends.
“The circumstantial evidence is compelling. It is highly probable that Fleming went to one or more of the MacCarthys’ parties in Wellington Square,” he added.
Concluding his case, Boyd found the flat matched Fleming’s description of Bond’s home in “From Russia, with Love” (1957) as having “a long big-windowed sitting room”.
The spy’s sitting room is also described as “book-lined” — which Boyd interprets as a nod to MacCarthy, who was a member of the Bloomsbury Group of 20th-century intellectuals.
In a final coincidental quirk, Boyd discovered Wellington Square is a stone’s throw from Bywater Street, where another famous fictional spy lived: John le Carre’s George Smiley.
From The Express
A rare set of James Book books, each inscribed by Ian Fleming, is being sold for £500,000.
Fleming sent presentation copies with witty messages to collaborators, friends and former lovers.
One of those was alleged mistress Sarah Dugdale who received a copy of Dr No from the married Fleming who wrote: "Sarah I'm sure you'll enjoy this, Mabel.” He may have used Mabel as an alias to conceal his extramarital affair.
Fleming sent a copy of Goldfinger to his golfing friends Albert and Cecil Whiting who were fellow members of Royal St George’s Golf Club in Sandwich, Kent. The 1958 novel contains a memorable scene in which 007 takes on Auric Goldfinger in a game of golf.
A copy of Casino Royale was inscribed with a reference to the M character. Fleming wrote: "To M, these pages from my memoirs! Ian."
He dedicated a first edition of Live And Let Die to his ex-girlfriend Clare Blanchard, a co-worker at the Kemsley Group of newspapers and early reader of Casino Royale.
The inscription reads: "To Clare who sheds much light. With love Ian 1954."
Fleming sent a copy of From Russia With Love to artist Richard Chopping, who designed the dust jackets.
On Her Majesty's Secret Service was given to Amherst Villiers, who painted the limited edition's title page portrait, while You Only Live Twice was inscribed "to Jonathan from Ian". The identity of the recipient is not known.
The only books not signed by Fleming are The Man With The Golden Gun and Octopussy And The Living Daylights, published after his death in 1964.
The set, amassed over 10 years by a mystery collector, is on sale at the Masterpiece London Art Fair, held by dealer Peter Harrington.
The dealer's Pom Harrington said: "It would be rare to find a collection with so many great inscriptions. It took a decade to build with the collector. He enjoyed the thrill of the chase, and so did we!"
From The Daily Telegraph
When Ian Fleming gave a presentation copy of You Only Live Twice, his James Bond classic, to a close friend, it could not have been a more appropriate gift as an espionage novel. The recipient was the former CIA director Allen Dulles, who is mentioned by name in that book.
The creator of one of the most iconic characters in 20th-century literature added a mock-Japanese inscription that alludes to a plot in which 007 is sent to Japan: “To Celestial Dulles-San from Miserable Fleming-San”. The inscription reflected a friendship between two men who had both held senior positions in their nation’s respective intelligence agencies and who both inspired the other’s work.
Now that copy is likely to excite collectors of Bond memorabilia as it has been acquired by Peter Harrington, leading antiquarian booksellers in London. Such is its rarity that it will be offered for sale at £27,500.
Dulles headed the CIA from 1953 to 1961. He was a significant figure in the early Cold War and, research by Christopher Moran, an expert in US national security, suggests that he was fascinated by Fleming’s fictional spy. While real-life CIA agents tried to copy Bond-style technology and gadgets - including the poison-tipped dagger shoes worn by a villain in From Russia With Love - Dulles in turn influenced Fleming's writing about US intelligence agencies.
In You Only Live Twice, M mentions Dulles by name in complaining that the CIA has stopped revealing information to MI6: “They regard that as their private preserve. When Allen Dulles was in charge, we used at least to get digests of any stuff that concerned us, but this new man McCone has cracked down on all that.”
The two men first met in 1959, dining together in London. They hit it off immediately, and the friendship lasted until Fleming’s death in 1964.
Bookseller Pom Harrington said: “Bond offered popular respect for the CIA's work, especially at a time when the Soviet shooting down of the U-2 Spy plane and the failed Bay of Pigs invasion under Dulles's watch - he had to resign over the latter - led to claims that the agency was ineffective and poorly run.”
He added: “After Dulles's death, the CIA impounded his private papers, finding with some shock that in Dulles and Fleming's correspondence the former revealed much sensitive information to the latter, and that Dulles actively sought Fleming's advice on intelligence matters… The relationship between Dulles and Fleming shows that real intelligence also finds inspiration in spy fiction, for their public presentation, for technologies, and for their heroic self-image. It dispels the notion that Bond is a subject of interest purely to fans and critics of popular culture and not one worthy of study by historians.”
A treasure trove of rare Ian Fleming books and manuscripts has just gone on sale via British design company Mason & Sons.
The collection of first editions - many of them signed by Fleming - includes Casino Royale, Live and Let Die, Moonraker, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, You Only Live Twice and more.
Aside from the novels, there is a collection of personal correspondence between Fleming and a young Austrian girlfgriend, Edith Maria Thonet, a copy of the address given at Fleming's funeral, lithographs, original advertising artwork and a stunning recreation of the attache case Bond uses in From Russia, With Love.
The incredibly rare items are part of a portfolio called "Bonding with Dad", which Mason & Sons have launched ahead of Father's Day on June 21st. Also for sale are prints and posters, and a wide selection of Bond related clothing.
You can see the full collection at https://masonandsons.com/
John Gardner is something of a forgotten man in the overall picture of the James Bond phenomenon.
Everybody knows who Ian Fleming was, but how many non-Bond fans know Gardner's name? Of course, it's not fair to compare a continuation author with the man who created the character and every aspect of his world, but Gardner's contribution was nonetheless significant and, I believe, he deserves more credit.
Over a period of 15 years (1981-1996) he wrote 14 original Bond novels, plus novelisations of the movies Licence to Kill and Goldeneye. Fleming wrote the same number of books (counting For Your Eyes Only and Octopussy & The Living Daylights as two books) over an 11-year period, with his last two Bond books being published posthumously.
It was widely assumed that the producers of the Bond movies would turn to Gardner's books once they had exhausted the supply of Fleming's original material, but, to date, this has not happened.
Gardner wrote the novelisation of Licence to Kill to accompany the release of the film in 1989, but the story contained major elements from Fleming's Live and Let Die (Felix disagreeing with something that eats him) and the Milton Krest storyline from the short story The Hildebrand Rarity. The bulk of the story was written by Richard Maibaum and Michael G. Wilson.
Gardner was also commissioned to write a novelisation of Goldeneye (1995), which became the first movie not to include any of Fleming's storylines. Although Gardner inserted one of two small scenes, his novel essentially followed the screenplay written by American screenwriter Michael France.
There was every opportunity to use Gardner’s books for the later Pierce Brosnan films, but they were overlooked in favour of new stories by Neal Purvis and Robert Wade. When you consider the dreadful storyline for Die Another Day, it seems almost perverse that Gardner’s work was not used.
The influence of the films is evident throughout Gardner's books. You get the feeling from the pace, plots, characters and action sequences that he was writing with a big screen adaptation in mind, rather than crafting a literary thriller in its own right, as Fleming had done. This makes it all the more ironic than none of his novels have made it to the screen as yet.
Admittedly, Gardner lacks the colourful turn of phrase, journalistic detail, and the casual snobbery of Fleming’s work, but that is irrelevant in adapting his work for the screen. The 1980s/1990s settings can easily be updated, as can the political and social elements that many of his novels cover.
You could reasonably argue that Raymond Benson’s Bond novels should be used (or even the more recent books by Sebastian Faulks, Jeffery Deaver, William Boyd and Anthony Horowitz), but Gardner devoted such a large part of his career to Bond that adapting his books into films would introduce a whole new generation to his work, and give him the credit he deserves.
In returning to Casino Royale for Daniel Craig’s debut, the producers understandably created a new story arc, which will presumably conclude with No Time to Die. With Craig now expected to hang up his Walther PPK, there is time for a re-boot of the franchise, and I think John Gardner’s books are worthy of consideration.
Queen Anne Press have announced the forthcoming publication of the notes that John Pearson made in 1965 while researching The Life of Ian Fleming.
The QAP website reveals: "They chart not only Fleming’s life – with details that never made it into the finished biography - but John’s own journey while investigating his subject. As such they form less a series of aides memoires than a book about writing a book. Compelling, insightful, irreverent and written in John’s inimitable style, they make an outstanding read. Never before published, they are available in two limitations:
A Regular Edition numbered 001-150 – £125
A Deluxe Edition lettered A-Z, signed by the author – £275 (fully subscribed)
376pp. Royal. Typography by Libanus Press. Covers by Prof. Phil Cleaver, Etal Design. Introduction by Fergus Fleming.
We expect the Regulars to be available late April. It will take a further three weeks to bind the Deluxe. In both cases, pandemic permitting. To register interest please email email@example.com
As a taster, here’s a clip from John’s interview with Admiral Godfrey, Fleming’s boss at Naval Intelligence and reputedly the model for ‘M’.
‘I’ll be wearing a check cap and will meet you off the 9.45 at Eastbourne Central,’ he had said. And there he was, a large, pink-faced man in his early seventies with heavy brown shoes and a grey Rover car. ‘Don’t judge John Godfrey by what he looks like now,’ Harling had said. ‘In his day he was formidable. Very formidable indeed. Since then, of course, he’s had a heart attack and he’s nothing like the man he was.’
But it wasn’t just a heart attack and the passage of a quarter of a century that accounted for the sadness of the occasion. It was partly that he had this air of helplessness, of the best part of life being over, that all naval officers seem to have when they retire. Those brown shoes haunted me throughout the interview.
But more than this, of course, was the fact that Fleming had so grossly oversold the product. Instead of the steely-eyed ‘M’ with his ruthlessness and his wealth and his deeply-lined face, there was this sad old man who found difficulty getting the car parked and looked like Cecil Parker.
The only surviving piece of M-ness one could see were the eyes. They were very pale blue, very cool."