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Double O Seventy - A report for the 70 Years of James Bond 007 celebration

By: Ajay Chowdhury
Double O Seventy, 70 years of 007 celebration
On 13th April 2023, Ian Fleming Publications Limited (IFPL) celebrated seven decades of literary 007 at a soirée in the London Library in St James. IFPL is the current name of Glidrose Productions Limited, the company the author formed prior to the publication of Casino Royale. Such was his ambition and anticipation for success, even before his first book was published, Ian Fleming vested his copyrights in a tax efficient holding company and purchased a gold-plated typewriter. Faith, indeed, borne out by fate!

70 years and 100 million books sold later, the fact the works of Ian Fleming still attract global interest is a publishing phenomenon. The heirs of Ian are now not only in control of the production of Bond books but also now publishing and distributing the works themselves. The subtle, elemental modern paperback covers designed by Webb & Webb were on display at the London Library along with fascinating examples of bibliophilic antiquity. Members of this hidden gem of an institute included Ian Fleming himself, and Cubby Broccoli – whose signed membership cards were on display – as well as Sir Mansfield Cumming, founder of the British Secret Service. He signed in green ink – a trait the author gave to his fictional head of the Service, Sir Miles Messervy aka M. Also on display was rare Fleming ephemera and print of contact sheets depicting the creator of James Bond meeting his creation: Sean Connery. Taken on 21st March 1962 by Sunday Times photographer, Frank Herrmann, it is a fascinating moment of history.

Ian Fleming, Sean Connery, Dr No set photos, Frank Herrmann
Stills of Ian Fleming and Sean Connery on the set of Dr No (1962) taken by Frank Herrmann. Photo by Mark Witherspoon. All rights reserved.

Ian’s nieces, daughters of his older brother (Robert) Peter Fleming, Kate Grimond and Lucy Williams addressed those attending from the wrought iron staircase in the wood panelled, venerable venue. Kate’s speech was an appreciation of the time and context of the publication of the first Bond novel. Lucy, an actress like her famed mother, Celia Johnson, interspersed her sister’s talk with readings of quotes in character: from 1953's Casino Royale to its the contemporaneous bad reviews. Then the managing director of IFPL, Corinne Turner – the Barbara Broccoli of the books – spoke about the exciting future of the Bond books, the decision to publish themselves and the imminent release of Charlie Higson’s commemorative coronation 007 novel, On His Majesty’s Secret Service.

Lucy Williams, Kate Grimmond, London Library, 70 years of Bond event
Lucy Williams and Kate Grimmond addressing the crowd at the London Library to mark 70 years of literary Bond. Photo by Mark Witherspoon. All rights reserved.

The Fleming family were also represented by Fergus Fleming. He is the son of Ian’s younger brother, father Valentine’s third son, Richard. An author is his own right, Fergus now manages uncle Ian’s specialist publishing house, Queen Anne Press. In 2016, he edited of the The Man With The Golden Typewriter: Ian Fleming’s James Bond Letters. Tom Fleming, a journalist from The Spectator – Fergus’ nephew via his brother James - was present. Lucy’s husband, the actor Simon Williams, was there to support the evening and also their son, actor Tam, Moneypenny’s lover in Spectre (2015).

On that evening, the London Library was Station F for the family of Fleming adjacent authors. Mark Pearson, the son of the late Fleming and Bond biographer, John Pearson was a pleasing presence. Simon Gardner, the son of the most prolific Bond Continuation author, John Gardner, was due to arrive but prevented by a storm closing the rail system. The first American Bond author, Raymond Benson, could not attend but his fellow founder members of the US charity, The Ian Fleming Foundation, Michael van Blaricum (with wife Pamela) and Doug Redenius, kept the American end up. Young Bond creator, Charlie Higson – the only author to actually play James Bond (the ornithologist, in TV’s Agatha Christie’s Marple: A Caribbean Mystery 2013) - made a dapper appearance. On 4th May 2023, his new adult 007 book hits the shelves, commissioned by royal command. Higson’s Young Bond successor, Steve Cole, enjoyed having a drink with his pal: Roger meet Sean! Anthony Horowitz could not attend but did a promotional turn on BBC’s The One Show that evening. World of 007 author, Kim Sherwood, whose book, Double Or Nothing, had just made its US debut, brought things up to date.

Charlie Higson, Doug Redenius, London Library, 70 years of Bond event
Charlie Higson and Doug Redenius at the London Library celebrating 70 years of literary Bond. Photo by Mark Witherspoon. All rights reserved.

Charlie Higson, Steve Cole, London Library, 70 years of Bond event
Authors Charlie Higson and Steve Cole at the London Library celebrating 70 years of literary Bond. Photo by Mark Witherspoon. All rights reserved.

Charlie Higson, Kim Shwerwood, London Library, 70 years of Bond event
Authors Charlie Higson and Kim Sherwood at the London Library celebrating 70 years of literary Bond. Photo by Mark Witherspoon. All rights reserved.

The wider IFPL family were also gathered including other Board members. Authors Jon Gilbert (Ian Fleming: The Bibliography and also of Adrian Harrington Rare Books), Meg Simmonds (Bond By Design: The Art Of The James Bond Films and archivist at EON Productions), Simon Ward (The Wit And Wisdom Of James Bond – with James Nolan - and Publishing Manager of IFPL), Peter Bently (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: The Children’s Edition updated in 2020 with an electric car!), photographer Frank Hermann’s grandson, David Koppel showed the breath of Fleming connectivity. Andrew Lycett (Ian Fleming: The Man Behind James Bond) could not attend.

A number of notables from the world of publishing enjoyed a drop of champagne: Curtis Brown super agent Jonny Geller, author and chairperson of the Crime Writers’ Association (and once owner of Murder One bookshop), Maxim Jakobowski, the effervescent crime writing columnist Ayo Onatade, Harper Collins legacy publisher David Brawn amongst others.

A junkanoo of James Bond Journalists enjoyed celebrating 70 years of 007. The Ian Fleming Foundation Board member Matthew Field was there as was his co-author of Some Kind Of Hero: The Remarkable Story Of The James Bond Films, Ajay Chowdhury, who also represented The James Bond International Fan Club. Edward Biddulph, author of Licence To Cook and Double-O Dining: A James Bond Cookbook who runs James Bond Memes, Mark O’Connell, author of Catching Bullets: Memoirs Of A Bond Fan, designer Mark Witherspoon on behalf of From Sweden With Love (FSWL founder Anders Frejdh could not attend), Vipul Patel for MI6-HQ and MI6 Confidential, Mark Mawston, veteran Bond event photographer also graced the event. Travelling in from the Netherlands was Merlijn Kuiper from Bondesque Magazine and Gosse Dent for James Bond Nederland. Finally, from deepest, darkest, Peru, jetted in Tom Cull of Cull & Co Literary Agency and the webmaster of Artistic Licence Renewed. Those gathered represented many decades of James Bond journalism, following Fleming’s footsteps.

2023 is certainly the year to discover the literary James Bond and the world of his creator. In October, Harvill Secker will publish a new biography, Ian Fleming: The Complete Man by Nicholas Shakespeare. Shakespeare’s work has been highly anticipated and has been tantalisingly teased: “a fresh portrait of the man behind James Bond, and his enduring impact, by an award-winning biographer. His talent for uncovering material that casts new light on his subjects is fully evident in this masterful, definitive biography. His unprecedented access to the Fleming family papers, his nose for a story and his novelist’s prize-winning talent to tell it, make this a fresh and eye-opening picture of the man and his famous creation.”

Charlie Higson, Steve Cole, London Library, 70 years of Bond event
Ian Fleming will return.

Written by Ajay Chowdhury. Copyright © 2023 From Sweden with Love. All rights reserved.



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