Seven Decades of 007
22nd April 2023
A London launch event celebrated Bond's 70th anniversary in print
On Thursday 13 April 2023, Ian Fleming Publications Ltd, marked the 70th anniversary of Ian Fleming’s debut novel, Casino Royale, with a reception at the historic London Library in St James’s. The event also celebrated the launch of the latest editions of all 14 James Bond books as well as his non-fiction titles, The Diamond Smugglers and Thrilling Cities.
The London Library, which first opened its doors in 1841, is the world’s largest independent lending library of which both Ian Fleming and Albert R. Broccoli were members.
The proceedings began with Fleming’s niece, Kate Grimond, who highlighted that Casino Royale was published six weeks before the late Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation, noting that the title was chosen to take advantage of royal fervour in Britain and across the Commonwealth, “Who could have possibly guessed the Queen’s reign would be so long or that James Bond, 70 years on, would still be outwitting megalomaniacs?” Grimond was then joined by her sister, actress, Lucy Williams and together they performed passages from their late Uncle’s debut novel. They then read a selection of amusing contemporary reviews that Fleming had personally collected and pasted into a cuttings book.
Their entertaining performance was followed by Corinne Turner, Director of IFP. “Many of us in this room were not even alive in 1952, when Ian Fleming first wrote the words ‘James Bond.’ Perceived wisdom has it, that a 00 agent retires, or rather dies a horrible death, at around the age of 45. James Bond’s books and Ian’s legacy have already outlived that and shown themselves to be adaptable, bold and adventurous - just like the man himself.” Turner recounted that her own introduction to the world of James Bond began with a family outing to see ‘Live and Let Die’ in 1973 which then encouraged her to seek out the original books, “They introduced a young Yorkshire lass to a colourful and exciting world full of opportunity.”
Turner spoke of how the Bond stories have continued to captivate readers all over the world before detailing what the next chapter for IFP entails. Touching on Charlie Higson’s brand-new Bond novel, On His Majesty’s Secret Service, published to mark the Coronation of King Charles III on 4 May, Turner continued, “Ian Fleming was a risk taker. In the office we are constantly asking ourselves, ‘What would Ian do?’ He was our guiding star when deciding if the time was right for bringing the publishing in house and building our own imprint. Should we continue to work with the fabulous partners we’ve had over the years, or should we take the risk and create something new?’ After a strong cocktail we decided to take the risk. We have taken the responsibility of publishing very seriously. From designing our glorious new covers to debating in the office, whether or not to put a full stop after M or Q, we have had a fun fulfilling year.” The striking new covers designed by London based agency, Webb & Webb, have been described by IFP as “smart, surprising and daring.”
The London Library displayed a number of interesting artefacts including Fleming’s and Broccoli’s membership cards and first editions of Casino Royale and Fleming’s field guide, Birds of the West Indies by James Bond. David Koppel, nephew of Sunday Times photographer, Frank Hermann, showcased a poster sized print of a black and white contact sheet of Fleming’s visit to the set of Dr. No at Pinewood Studios where he was photographed with Sean Connery.
Present were Bond literary alumni Charlie Higson, Kim Sherwood and Steve Cole. Also in attendance was Mark Pearson, son of the late Fleming and Bond biographer, John Pearson. The wider Bond community were out in force including representatives from The Ian Fleming Foundation. Turner brought the evening to a close by thanking everyone for joining IFP on their next chapter and continued adventures with James Bond, “Raise your glasses to Ian Fleming, 007 and everyone who keeps the legacy alive.”