Never-before-seen correspondence concerning the lost James Bond continuation novel, "Per Fine Ounce", can now be revealed...

The Geoffrey Jenkins Letters (1)

23rd August 2010

Geoffrey Jenkins was born on June 16th, 1920 in Pretoria, South Africa. He came to prominence as a writer in the 1950s, having previously worked as journalist. In the course of this prior profession, Jenkins became friendly with a young Ian Fleming. Whilst Jenkins would return to his homeland to write, both authors were reportedly life-long friends.

Just prior to his death, Fleming was in conversation with his old friend about the possibility of setting a James Bond novel in South Africa. As he was ideally placed to advise him, Jenkins was heavily involved in the brainstorming and plot points for what Fleming intended to be his 15th 007 publication. Fleming would never get to write it.

After Fleming passed away in 1964, his brother Peter, as director of Glidrose Publications, was involved in conceiving a series of James Bond novels to be written under the nom-de-plum Robert Markham; amicable best-selling authors would ghost write the novels.

With much research and planning to his name, and what by all accounts was the blessing of Ian Fleming himself, Geoffrey Jenkins would be ideally placed to pen the first of these continuation novels.

 

The following hitherto unreleased letters from the Jenkins Estate archives best tells the rest of the story. It chronicles the author's negotiations to write the doomed continuation novel. Included in this raft of conversations, which Jenkins conducted by mail throughout the years 1965 and 1966, is evidence of some misgivings held by Anne Fleming - Ian's widow - and intimate details of Jenkins' contract negotiations with Glidrose (now Ian Fleming Publications).

The following are extracts from letters sent to and from 108 Albert Street, Waterkloof, in Pretoria - the Jenkins' family home, at which Geoffrey resided whilst negotiating a deal for his James Bond novel, "Per Fine Ounce".

From: Ronald Aiken
To: Geoffrey Jenkins
Dated: 13th December 1965


Whilst Peter Fleming was keen to see 007's literary legacy continued by Jenkins (and had entrusted Charles Tyrrell of Glidrose to negotiate a deal with the author's lawyer, Ronald Aiken), Ian's widow Anne Fleming was uncomfortable about entrusting anyone with the Bond brand. Some speculate she had learned the lesson after the events surrounding "Thunderball" and the loss of rights to certain characters and plot elements to producer Kevin McClory.

From: Ronald Aiken
To: Geoffrey Jenkins
Dated: 14th December 1965


William Collins was Jenkins' life-long publisher whom the author was insisting handle the publication of "Per Fine Ounce". In the above letter, Jenkins' lawyer suggests to the author that if Anne Fleming were to meet the new publishers this might alleviate her worries and allow Glidrose to proceed with the contract. Thirty days later, Aiken reports that there is no news whether or not Anne had reached a decision.

From: Ronald Aiken
To: Geoffrey Jenkins
Dated: 11th January 1966


In the above correspondence, Jenkins' lawyer outlines Mrs. Fleming's concerns that are still yet to be resolved. The chief amongst them was that the quality of Jenkins' (and future authors) work might deteriorate or complicate the value of the Fleming property and rights. As time would tell, this was not the case.

As of February 8th 1966 and the letter drafted by Aiken to Jenkins, Mrs. Fleming had yet to make her decision. Jenkins was advised that Anne was due to give consent to the continuation novel series. When the end of the month came and went, Geoffrey Jenkins wrote the following letter:

From: Geoffrey Jenkins
To: Ronald Aiken
Dated: 15th March 1966


Prior to going on vacation, Jenkins wrote to his tax administrator, Stanley Gorrie, briefing him on the new project he was intending to undertake - that of "Per Fine Ounce". In this correspondence the author elaborates on his perspective of the "perturbed" Mrs. Fleming.

From: Geoffrey Jenkins
To: Stanley Gorrie
Dated: 22nd March 1966


Ultimately. it would not be until 12th May 1966 that Jenkins would receive formal approval to start work on a manuscript for "Per Fine Ounce", based on his outline he had developed (with or for, depending on whose account one is inclined to believe).

Within the same letter Jenkins also reveals that he will "refuse" to write the novel unless it is published by his regular people, William Collins & Sons, forgoing Jonathan Cape who had held on to the publication duties since "Casino Royale".

The author stipulated a contract that would involve an option to earn royalties from any film adaptation that Mr. Saltzman and Mr. Broccoli of EON Productions were inclined to make based on Jenkins' work.


Stay tuned to MI6 for the second set of letters in which discussion of the Jenkins-Glidrose contract takes place...

Mr. Geoffrey Jenkins' letters exclusively reproduced courtesy of Ronald Payne, agent for the Geoffrey Jenkins Estate. Not to be reproduced or transcribed.

Related Articles

The Geoffrey Jenkins Letters (2)
The Curious History of Per Fine Ounce
Per Fine Ounce - Exclusive Extract
Geoffrey Jenkins Index

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