A Blagger's Guide To: James Bond

'Vices: drink, but not to excess, and women ...'

William Boyd has been revealed as the writer behind the next James Bond novel, which will be published by Jonathan Cape next year. He follows recent official Bond novels by Sebastian Faulks, whose best-selling Devil May Care in 2008 (set in the 1960s) marked the centenary of Ian Fleming's birth, and Jeffery Deaver, whose Carte Blanche was published and set in 2011. Other writers to have tackled Bond with the blessing of the Fleming estate include Kingsley Amis, Christopher Wood, John Gardner, Raymond Benson and Charlie Higson. Boyd's novel will be set in 1969 – five years after Fleming's death.

 

On the Today programme on Thursday, Boyd pointed out that three Bond actors have also appeared in films that he has written or adapted. These were: Daniel Craig as Guy Crouchback in Sword of Honour, 2001, and also as Sgt Telford Winter in The Trench, 1999; Sean Connery as Dr Alex Murray in A Good Man in Africa, 1994; and Pierce Brosnan as Harry Rudbeck in Mr Johnson, 1990. (Ian Fleming appears as a character in Any Human Heart, and was played in the 2010 TV series by Tobias Menzies.) So which of the other actors who have appeared in Boyd's films and screenplays might one day be chosen to play his new Bond? Well, Colin Firth played Truelove in the TV movie Dutch Girls in 1985. Rupert Graves played Shakespeare in A Waste of Shame: The Mystery of Shakespeare and His Sonnets in 2005. And, err, Gillian Anderson was excellent as the Duchess of Windsor in Any Human Heart.

 

In his 1966 biography The Life of Ian Fleming, John Pearson reported that Fleming wrote Casino Royale, finished on 18 March 1952, to take his mind off his wedding to Ann Rothermere on 24 March.

 

According to Ian Fleming Publications Ltd, James Bond "was born in the early 1920s to Andrew Bond of Glencoe and Monique Delacroix, from the Canton de Vaud in Switzerland. When he was six days old, James' name was put on Eton's general admissions list by his father. Bond received a conditional place at Eton in the early 1930s, just before his parents died in a climbing accident in France .... After two halves at the school, James Bond was removed from Eton due to an alleged incident with one of the Boys' Maids."

 

James Bond's file at the Soviet anti-spy organisation Smersh reads as follows, according to From Russia With Love: "'Name: Bond, James. Height: 183 cm, weight: 76kg; slim build; eyes: blue; hair: black; scar down right cheek & on left shoulder; all-round athlete; expert pistol shot, boxer, knife-thrower; does not use disguises. Languages: French and German. Smokes heavily (NB: special cigarettes with three gold bands); vices: drink, but not to excess, and women."

 

There are several Bond parodies with a feminist twist. In Finland, Jane Blond appears in two novels that have not yet been translated into English. Jane Blonde is the star of the young adult novels by Jill Marshall, published by Pan Macmillan. The Moneypenny Dairies books, by Kate Westbrook, are published by John Murray. And the Californian writer Mabel Maney is the author of Kiss the Girls and Make Them Spy and The Girl with the Golden Bouffant, which star Jane Bond, James's lesbian sister. Another that seems to have slipped beneath the radar of the notoriously possessive Fleming estate is the Kindle book, Dear James, Love Pussy, which purports to be the correspondence revealing how Bond "turned" the lavender-eyed lesbian, Pussy Galore.

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