Fleming Drew from His Intelligence Role

The Birmingham Post (England), October 25, 2012 | Go to article overview

Fleming Drew from His Intelligence Role


Ian Fleming's bibliographer breathes a big sigh of relief.

Noting every unique detail about the multiple versions of the author's works has taken Jon Gilbert four-and-a-half years' worth of interviewing, photographing, researching, writing, double-checking and proofing what has become an extraordinary 736-page tome.

"I can now have some semblance of my life back," says the father-of-five.

"So many bibliographies don't have photos, but we've got more than 1,000 illustrations and something on every page."

He calls his folio-sized publication "a great, fat book" and started it simply because nobody had done one before.

Living on the south coast in East Sussex and making regular train journeys to and from London was the secret of getting it finished. And the fact that many research centres allowed him to take copious photographs of archive material.

"The hours on the train allowed me to write most of the book, you can get a lot done," says Jon.

"It's taken a huge amount of detective work, aptitude and desire. I did this because I am interested in Bond."

Whereas Kate Grimond knew the real Fleming, Jon feels he's got to know the late author through those who worked with him.

"I've interviewed seven or eight people who met Ian Fleming," he says.

Key among them was Fleming's literary agent, Peter Janson-Smith who became chairman of Glidrose (now Ian Fleming Publications, IFP) and President of theIanFlemingFoundation(founded 20 years ago in July, 1992 and 'dedicated to the study and preservation of the history of Ian Fleming's literary works, the James Bond phenomenon, and their impact on popular culture').

Janson-Smith turned 90 on September 5 and was, according to Jon, a "young turk, a go-getter who was employed by Eric Ambler as his literary agent".

Others included editor Valerie Kettley and Kate's cousin, Fergus Fleming.

From all of his research, Jon grew to understand that Bond was a composite of many people that Ian Fleming knew.

"He had a wide circle of friends, including Evelyn Waugh and Somerset Maugham and, although he was inspired to be more like these and did try to change his writing now and again, Bond was also up to 50 per cent of himself," says Jon. …

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