On August 16, 1952, Ian Fleming wrote to his wife, Ann, "My love, This is only a tiny letter to try out my new typewriter and to see if it will write golden words since it is made of gold." He had bought the golden typewriter as a present to himself for finishing his first novel, Casino Royale.Read more...
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On August 16, 1952, Ian Fleming wrote to his wife, Ann, "My love, This is only a tiny letter to try out my new typewriter and to see if it will write golden words since it is made of gold." He had bought the golden typewriter as a present to himself for finishing his first novel, Casino Royale. It marked in glamorous style the arrival of James Bond, agent 007, and the start of a career that saw Fleming become one the world's most celebrated thriller-writers. And he did write golden words. Before his death in 1964 he produced fourteen best-selling Bond books, two works of non-fiction and the famous children's story Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang.
Fleming's output was matched by an equally energetic flow of letters. He wrote constantly, to his wife, publisher, editors, fans, friends and critics--and to the wife of the man whose name Fleming appropriated for his hero--charting 007's progress with correspondence that ranged from badgering Jonathan Cape about his quota of free copies--a coin was tossed and Fleming lost--to apologizing for having mistaken a certain brand of perfume and for equipping Bond with the wrong kind of gun. His letters also reflect his friendship with such contemporaries as Raymond Chandler, Noel Coward and Somerset Maugham.
This entertaining and engaging compilation traces the arc of Fleming's literary career and details the inner working of James Bond. Set against the backdrop of his Jamaican retreat Goldeneye, and a troubled marriage, Fleming's letters are filled with wit, humor and occasional self-doubt. They reveal an intimate portrait of a man, an era and a literary phenomenon.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-11-02
- Reviewer: Staff
It's hard to believe that it took this long for someone to publish Ian Fleming's correspondence about James Bond. His nephew, Fergus Fleming, provides generous contextual commentary on the fascinating missives. Readers will enjoy watching Fleming interact with his editors, fans, and famous friends such as David Niven, W. Somerset Maugham, and Noel Coward. Each Bond novel gets its own chapter, and there are separate chapters devoted to Fleming's exchanges with mystery author Raymond Chandler, arms expert Geoffrey Boothroyd (the real Q), and Yale librarian Herman W. Liebert (who critiqued his use of American slang). It is especially interesting to note how gentlemanly Fleming was when responding to criticism. The letters also show the prickly Fleming, who argued about print runs, royalty rates, and co-op advertising with his publisher, Jonathan Cape, and the opinionated Fleming, who had his own ideas about cover design. His desired legacy was a classic thriller that would be a "mixture of Tolstoy, Simenon, Ambler, and Koestler, with a pinch of ground Fleming." Too bad he had to settle for being the creator of one of the most famous fictional characters of all time. (Nov.)