Letters by Ian Fleming Showing the Origins of James Bond Up for Auction

Ian Fleming, British author and creator of James Bond, at his desk. (Photo by Express/Express/Getty)
Ian Fleming, British author and creator of James Bond, at his desk. (Photo by Express/Express/Getty)
By Evan Bleier / November 12, 2019 10:00 am

Personal letters penned by James Bond creator Ian Fleming will be up for auction courtesy of Sotheby’s London at the “English Literature, History, Rock and Pop, Children’s Books and Illustrations” sale next month. 

Written to Fleming’s wife Ann, the letters offer a window into the Flemings’ marriage as well as his development of the character of James Bond. 

The letters begin in the 1940s when Ann was married to someone else, continue through the couple’s marriage in 1952, and continue until Ian’s death in 1964. Throughout the course of their relationship, both Ian and Ann had multiple other lovers, as the letters, which also include some of her responses, illustrate.

They also shine a light on the couple’s interest in sadomasochism. “I long for you even if you whip me because I love being hurt by you and kissed afterwards,” Ann writes to Ian in one.

The correspondence from the later years of the marriage details how producers and screenwriters were able to see the cinematic potential of the Bond character and contain references to negotiations over possible adaptations, including an early proposal for a TV series.

“James Bond was very much a product of Ian and Ann’s relationship,” said, Dr. Gabriel Heaton, Sotheby’s Specialist in Books and Manuscripts. “It is no coincidence that Ian wrote his first Bond novel in the same year they married, both as an outlet for his libido and imagination, and also in an attempt to make money for a woman who was used to being unthinkingly rich.”

Estimated to sell for $250,000 to $380,000, the collection of 150 or so letters goes up for sale starting December 3.

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