An auction of letters from Ian Fleming to his secretaries will go under the auction hammer this month, revealing some new Literary Bond insight...

Ian Fleming Letters Auction
3rd April 2008

The month of May this year will be feverish with everything 007 as 2008 marks the centenary of the birth of James Bond creator Ian Fleming. Duke Auctioneers will be adding to the celebrations with the sale of a collection of letters between Ian Fleming, his secretaries Una Trueblood and later Beryl Griffie-Williams and Fleming’s typist Mrs. Frampton. The correspondences were kept by a Mrs. Frampton, a lady local to the South Coast, who was also typist for other authors such as Lawrence Whistler, glass engraver and brother of the famous artist Rex Whistler and David Garnett.

The relationship between Mrs. Frampton and Fleming was such that Fleming often called on her editorial skills and asked her to pick out flaws in his plots and characters. In one modest letter, Fleming writes; ‘I have written a full length James Bond story provisionally called “Thunderball” … I’m afraid this is not a good typescript and I would be deeply obliged if you would apply your usual keen mind to any points – absolutely any – that might help the book get in shape.”

The collection of letters offered for sale at Duke’s documents Mrs. Frampton’s suggestions for the storyline of some of Fleming's best Bond works, namely ‘Thunderball’ as well as her deep involvement in the adventures of Bond. In one letter she writes, ‘I still regret the end of ‘Thunderball’, as my naïve and literal mind would like to know exactly what happened…what about Blofeld (or does he live to die another day?).’


Amy Brenan who has been researching the collection says, ‘Not only do the letters carry Fleming’s original signature, a valuable thing on it’s own, they also demonstrate that the plots of some of the most famous Bond books were perfected as a result of another person.’ The collection makes fascinating retrospective reading for the Bond enthusiast not just because of the contents of each letter but for the original typed Bond manuscripts that some of the letters are duplicated on!

Many of the letters also act as an invaluable reference to Fleming’s life as an author making note of his many trips abroad particularly to Jamaica where he built his home ‘Goldeneye’ and wrote ‘Casino Royale’. Fleming famously said, ‘Would these books have been born if I hadn’t been living in the gorgeous vacuum of a Jamaican holiday? I doubt it.’

The letters from Frampton to Fleming also refer to the other Bond books Fleming was writing such as ‘Man with the Golden Gun’, ‘You Only Live Twice’ and ‘From A View to a Kill’.

The entire collection which comprises 4 signed letters by Fleming in addition to letters from Griffie-Williams, Una Trueblood and Frampton will be offered at auction on 10th April at an estimate of £2,000-3,000. Amy Brenan says, ‘We have definitely chosen the right time to sell the collection as it corresponds with the release of the new James Bond book by Sebastian Faulks and as it is the year of the centenary, we hope that the Bond enthusiasts will be in abundance at the sale.’

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