Website last updated: 17-7-2024

Ian Fleming's Literary Agent Peter Janson-Smith (1922-2016)

By: Anders Frejdh
Peter Janson Smith Ian Fleming agent
FSWL is very saddened to report the passing of another member of the 'James Bond family' in 2016, British literary agent Peter Janson-Smith (born in Navestock, Essex, England on 5th September 1922) who represented Ian Fleming for many years. Janson-Smith was also Chairman of Glidrose Publications Ltd. We send our sincere condolences primarily to his partner, Lili, but also to the rest of his family and thank Peter for his BIG contribution to the 007 phenomenon.

Raymond Benson, author of six Bond novels & three short stories from 1997 to 2002:

"It is with great sadness that I share the news that Peter Janson-Smith has passed away. Peter, who hired me to write James Bond novels in the mid-90s, was a mentor, a teacher, a friend, and someone I called my "English dad." Peter had a long, distinguished career as a literary agent in England. He was Ian Fleming's agent as well as Eric Ambler's and many other great authors. He sold Anthony Burgess' [novel] A Clockwork Orange. He was the trustee for Winnie the Pooh. So many accomplishments, too many to name here. I will miss him terribly. Thank you, Peter, for everything you did for me, and for everything you did to better our world."

As Barbara Broccoli, co-producer of current Bond films & daughter of Albert R. Broccoli, said when she recently visited Peter at hospital, "Without Peter, none of us would be here".

FSWL founder Anders Frejdh said, "Having had the fortune and pleasure to spend some time with Peter in recent years - one of the kindest and most respectful human beings I have ever met - I deeply mourn his passing with the rest of the Bond World. He was a one-of-a-kind and truly one of the real heroes behind the 007 phenomenon. Rest in peace, Peter, I will never forget you. And thanks for everything."

Stanley Morgan, Casino concierge in the first Bond film (Dr No), remembers Peter:

"Peter was my first agent, circa 1968, recommended to me by Granada manager Alwyn Birch who had bought the rights to my first Russ Tobin book The Sewing Machine Man.
I can't remember how many Tobin books Peter's agency handled, but despite their growing commercial success, I think their jokey/risque nature became a bit of a challenge for the agency and I moved on. Interestingly, a young Patrick Janson-Smith, then at Granada, participated in the successful publishing of the first ten Tobin books."

Peter Janson-Smith obituary:

Peter Janson-Smith is one of the reasons why the James Bond novels, and later the James Bond films, became a global phenomenon as he was Fleming’s literary agent and saw the future in global publishing. And thanks to Peter's efforts, Fleming was read around the world.

When the films were eventually made, there was a hungry global audience waiting to pounce on 007. As Chairman of Glidrose, now Ian Fleming Publications (the literary copyright holders of Bond) Janson-Smith oversaw the continuation authors who wrote authorized Bond novels after Fleming died in 1964.

Kingsley Amis, a famous British writer, took on the challenge and wrote Colonel Sun (1968) (under the pseudonym Robert Markham) in 1968.

In 1973, John Pearson, Fleming’s biographer, wrote James Bond: The Authorised Biography (published in Swedish as James Bond memoarer by Selstam in July 2014).

In 1981, John Gardner became the new Bond author, hand-picked by Janson-Smith. Gardner wrote one Bond novel a year for 16 years until famed Bond scholar and American author Raymond Benson took over with Zero Minus Ten (published in 1997).

Janson-Smith retired from the literary side of things but is a legend in the publishing industry. Ensuring Bond was translated into over 40 languages and steering post-Fleming Bond novels, he kept 007 on the bookshelves.

As successful as the films are, never forget that Bond started on the printed page. The roaring success of Daniel Craig as Ian Fleming’s James Bond in Casino Royale (2006) was due, in no small part, to the classic yet unusual novel the film is faithfully based on.

Peter really helped Fleming shepherd Bond to cultural immortality and was very much involved in the legacy of the famed author in recent years as Chairman of The Ian Fleming Foundation.

Mike VanBlaricum, Co-founder and President of The Ian Fleming Foundation, wrote:

"When I approached Peter in the early 1980s as a wide-eyed collector of all things Ian Fleming, Peter took me under his wing, introduced me to Nichol Fleming (Ian’s nephew), and encouraged my collecting habits. When I got the idea to start The Ian Fleming Foundation in 1991, Peter embraced it wholeheartedly and supported and advised us. Peter was an amazing British gentleman in all aspects of the expression. But, most importantly, Peter was my friend. He will be greatly missed but he will never be forgotten."

Doug Redenius, Co-founder and former Vice-president & Director of acquisitions for The Ian Fleming Foundation, said:

"I am crushed. I cannot convey in words how devastated I am in the loss of my dear, dear Peter. He was like a father to me. Even though there was time to prepare, one is never really prepared to accept the loss of someone you love with all your heart. I feel broken. Peter ... until we meet again."

Peter is survived by his partner of many years, Lili Pohlman, and his children - Alice, Diana, Deirdre & Patrick. As well as step-children and grandchildren.

Other obituaries of Peter Janson-Smith:
>Booktrade (18-4-2016)
>Cinema Retro (28-4-2016)
>Her Majesty's Secret Servant (15-4-2016)
>Ian Fleming Publications (20-4-2016)
>The Book Seller (18-4-2016)

Photo above:
Peter Janson-Smith in London 2012. Photo by Anders Frejdh. © From Sweden with Love. All rights reserved.

Read James Bond continuation author Raymond Benson's interview with Janson-Smith from the March-April 2010 issue of Crimespree Magazine thanks to our friends over at CommanderBond.



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Founder & Managing Editor: Anders Frejdh