Auctions | November 3, 2015

Bonhams to Sell Two Fascinating Ian Fleming Letters

FLEMING IAN Typed letter signed_zpsqk2fdpp9.jpg

Two fascinating letters from James Bond author, Ian Fleming, to a doctor who wrote to him about his most famous fictional creation are being sold at Bonhams Fine Books and Manuscripts sale in London on 11 November. They are estimated at £3,000-4,000 each. 

The letters were published for the first time recently in The Man with the Golden Typewriter, an anthology of Fleming’s correspondence compiled by his nephew, Fergus Fleming. They were addressed to Dr G.R.G.D. Gibson, an Aston Martin enthusiast who initially contacted the novelist with an enquiry about Bond’s car.

Fleming letter_zpsw8wtxcf7.jpg

In one of the letters, from June 1959, Fleming refers tantalisingly to a story he had in mind with a motor racing background. He wrote, “I will try to get around to it in due course and shall not be then surprised if I receive a sheaf of complaints from experts such as yourself.”  

Fleming did indeed sketch out a story with a motor racing theme - a treatment for an episode of a television series, Murder on Wheels, set in the Nürburgring, with Bond fighting a Russian plot to kill Stirling Moss. In the event the programme was never made but now, more than 65 years later, the story has at last been told.

The Fleming Estate gave novelist Anthony Horowitz access to the script and he used it as the basis for his bestselling and critically acclaimed Bond novel, Trigger Mortis, published by Orion Books on 8 September this year. Anthony Horowitz commented on the letter, "I'm rather glad Fleming never wrote this story as it allowed me to do so - in Trigger Mortis - some fifty years later. I'm quite tempted to bid for this little piece of James Bond history!"

In an earlier letter of September 1957, Fleming reveals how Bond was brought back from the dead after a seemingly lethal attack of Fugu poisoning at the end of From Russia With Love.  It was only with the publication of Dr No in 1958 that the public learned of Bond’s miraculous survival - miraculous because there is no cure for Fugu poisoning.

Fleming was less forthcoming about Bond’s new car simply writing, "As to James Bond's motor car, he is in fact in the process of being re-equipped, and the body-builders are now at work on the chassis. For security reasons I'm sure you will appreciate that neither the make of the car nor its speed can at this date be revealed."