MI6 has exclusive access to the newly republished James Bond novels, featuring an insightful and historical look back at how Ian Fleming created a legend...

Unwrapping The New Fleming Hardbacks (2)
30th May 2008

On 28th May 2008, new editions of all of Ian Fleming’s classic James Bond books are published by Penguin to mark the centenary of his birth and to coincide with publication of the brand new Bond book Devil May Care by Sebastian Faulks. The fourteen original books will be published in hardback priced at £14.99 with eye catching new covers created by the designers Michael Gillette and Jon Gray.

This incredibly desirable series of books is just part of an exciting programme of events and publications celebrating the life of the creator the world’s most famous spy. Since the publication of Casino Royale in 1953, over 100 million Bond books have been sold.
Unwrapping The New Fleming Hardbacks (1)

For Your Eyes Only
It was after the publication of For Your Eyes Only that Ian Fleming felt compelled to secure the artist Dickie Chopping to continue for his further Bond books. Chopping had painted the covers for From Russia With Love and Goldfinger and Fleming very much liked his developing trompe l’oeil style. The artist, however, was no longer satisified with his fee and for Bond’s next outing – Thunderball – Fleming had to stump up 200 guineas for the painting.

Thunderball emerged from the intention to have Ian Fleming bring James Bond to the big screen and the book was written from a loose outline he’d developed for a film. It was in discussions about making the film that Fleming put forward the idea of SPECTRE, the criminal organization that would come to be at the centre of many of Bonds later adventures.


The Spy Who Loved Me
The Spy Who Loved Me shows a mature Ian Fleming wrestling with his creation. Having claimed that James Bond was a ‘blunt instrument’, Fleming had become worried that some younger readers might come to idolize him as a mythical hero, and here he wished to show Bond from another angle entirely. That Fleming was unsuccessful in any of the Bond books in resolving this issue to any satisfaction suggests that it is this very enigma which may lie at the heart of the secret agent’s appeal. The Spy Who Loved Me includes a reference to a character called Donaldson, named after friends of Ian Fleming’s wife Ann, who were staying at Goldeneye while he was writing the novel, and Robert Harling – a friend of Fleming’s and member of 30 AU (the commando unit he directed during WW2).

On Her Majesty's Secret Service
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service provides Ian Fleming’s most interesting portrait of M; and one which most closely resembles his former superior Admiral Godfrey. Fleming used the visit he and his wife Ann made to Engadine near St Moritz to help create his cast of characters in the restaurant above a ski run. Robin Mirlees was hired to provide Fleming with information on heraldry and genealogy, discovering the family histories of Bond and Blofeld. (The coat of arms of Peckam Bond family has the motto ‘The world is not enough’.


You Only Live Twice
Ian Fleming went on a two week research trip to Japan in November 1962 (a trip which had been delayed slightly due to his attendance at the official film premiere of Dr No in October). He was accompanied by his Australian friend Richard Hughes, who had also acted as his guide on his Thrilling Cities trip to Tokyo three years earlier, and Tiger Saito, a journalist friend. References to the names of both men find their way into You Only Live Twice – Hughes as Dikko Henderson, the head of the Australian Secret Service, and Saito as Tiger Tanaka, head of the Japanese Secret Service.

The Man With The Golden Gun
As had occurred in previous Bond novels, Ian Fleming drew on his private life to provide the names for his characters and in The Man with the Golden Gun it was to his school days in Eton that he turned for his villain, Scaramanga.

Fleming died before the book’s publication and his publishers passed the book to Kingsley Amis to read and comment on. (Amis would write his own Bond novel a few years later.)

Octopussy and The Living Daylights was published posthumously, but the stories were completed some time before Ian Fleming’s death and each reveals the writer’s diligent research and obsession with taking names from his private life.

Octopussy, for example, was the name of a boat he had been given for his Jamaican residence of Golden Eye. The Living Daylights – originally ‘Trigger Finger’ – saw him in contact with the National Rifle Association for details on marksmanship.


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All images and text courtesy Penguin Books.