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James Bond books

The Oxford Companion to the Book

James Bond books 

British spy novel series created by Ian Fleming. The first book, Casino Royale, was written in 1952 at Goldeneye, Fleming’s Jamaican retreat, reputedly to ease the tension of waiting to marry Ann Rothermere, whose divorce decree was being finalized. Yet Fleming had long wanted to write ‘the spy story to end all spy stories’, and the Bond books were based in part on his own experiences in naval intelligence during World War II. Published by *Cape, Casino Royale (1953) was followed by Live and Let Die (1954), Moonraker (1955), Diamonds Are Forever (1956), From Russia with Love (1957), Dr No (1958), Goldfinger (1959), the short story collection For Your Eyes Only (1960), Thunderball (1961), The Spy Who Loved Me (1962), On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1963), You Only Live Twice (1964), and the posthumous The Man with the Golden Gun (1965) and Octopussy, and The Living Daylights (1966). Criticized by some for excessive violence, improbable plots, and misogyny, the books—only moderately successful at first—achieved bestseller status on both sides of the Atlantic when From Russia with Love was cited by President Kennedy as one of his favourite novels. In 1961, Fleming sold the film rights to Harry Saltzman and Cubby Broccoli, whose enormously successful movies somewhat overshadowed the original books. After Fleming’s death, Glidrose—the production company he purchased in 1952 to handle his literary rights—commissioned Colonel Sun (1968), a new Bond novel from Kingsley Amis (writing as Robert Markham). Other ‘continuation’ books have been written by John Gardner, Raymond Benson, and Sebastian Faulks. Fleming’s books were reissued as ‘*Penguin Classics’, while a series of Young Bond novels by Charlie Higson and The Moneypenny Diaries by Samantha Weinberg (writing as Kate Westbrook) continue the franchise, overseen by Ian Fleming Publications Limited.

Jane Potter

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