Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Ian Fleming's true love was his muse

I am just coming back to my computer after a classic Swedish vacation at the country house with minimal access to internet. During the summer I have read Andrew Lycett's Ian Fleming biography close to 500 pages and it was clear to me that Fleming had a very strange relationship towards woman. He seem to only have been interested in the women he could not have.

During his marriage to Anne Fleming he had a "secret affair" to Blanche Blackwell in Jamaica. It was so secret that after a while Anne refereed to Blanche as Ian´s second wife in Jamaica.

Anyhow, In Lycett's book one gets the feeling that Blanche was the only one with a human heart not placing herself first and tried to be nice to Ian every time they meet. In the end he started using her to a degree that actually made me upset. It was sad to read how a lovable person can be treated like this due to the fact that she was in love with a married man.

On August 7th Blanche Blackwell died at age 104. This is only four days away from Ian Flemings own death on August 12, 1964. She outlived him by 53 years and hopefully lived a very happy life when the focus of Fleming had to go away.

Below is the best obituary for Blanche Blackwell and it includes a lot of information about Blackwell and Flemings life together and the way she added inspiration to Flemings novels.
The text below is borrowed by The Washington Post to make James Bond fans find this great piece of writing in many years to come. 


Jamaican muse and mistress of 007’s creator, Ian Fleming, dies at 104


 Blanche Blackwell in her youth in Jamaica
Blanche Blackwell’s romantic life inspired one of Noël Coward’s plays about an upper-crust love triangle, and swashbuckling Hollywood star Errol Flynn wanted to marry her. She was a member of one of Jamaica’s richest families but was best known as the mistress and muse of Ian Fleming, the rakish author who was the creator of James Bond.
Mrs. Blackwell died Aug. 8 in London at 104. Her death was confirmed by Andrew Lycett, Fleming’s biographer. Other details were not available.
Vivacious and outdoorsy, Mrs. Blackwell was known for her bright smile and casual allure. She first met Flynn — “a gorgeous god,” in her words — in the 1940s, during one of his Jamaican vacations. He described her laugh as “like the sounds of water tinkling over a waterfall” and was so enchanted that he wanted to propose, even though both were married to other people.
One of her closest friends was Coward, the gay playwright and entertainer who based a character on Mrs. Blackwell in his 1956 play “Volcano,” about the self-indulgent lives of island aristocrats. The play was so sexually charged that it wasn’t performed in public until 2012. Mrs. Blackwell attended the opening.
She lived long enough to give business advice to U2’s Bono, whose career was launched by her son, Chris Blackwell, the founder of Island Records.
“She always says, ‘I love men — they make such good pets,’ ” Chris Blackwell told the British magazine Tatler this year.
Mrs. Blackwell had a home on Jamaica’s north coast, midway between Coward’s island retreat and Fleming’s estate, Goldeneye, where Fleming wrote his novels and stories about Bond, Agent 007.
She was divorced and in her 40s by the time she met Fleming in the mid-1950s. She had recently returned to Jamaica after several years in England, where her son was attending school.
“I remember I sat next to him at dinner and he said: ‘Why haven’t I seen you before?’ ” she recalled to London’s Sunday Express newspaper in 2012. “I told him I was just over from England and he said, ‘Oh good God, you’re not a lesbian, are you?’ ”
In Jamaica, what began as “a tropical dalliance” between the writer and Mrs. Blackwell “developed into a deep love affair,” Lycett wrote in his 1995 biography of Fleming.
Beginning in 1952, Fleming returned to Goldeneye every winter to write a new book about Bond’s adventures as a British intelligence officer and serial seducer of women — a fair summary of Fleming’s earlier life. His wife, Ann, usually stayed in England.
Mrs. Blackwell left Fleming alone to work in the mornings, then stopped by at midday for snorkeling and lunch. She came back for the cocktail hour, after his afternoon writing session. He called her “Birdie.”
“She was really somebody who offered him friendship,” Lycett said in an interview. “She made him content and happy at a difficult time in his life. She was a woman of great charm and intelligence and was extraordinarily good company.”
In 1956, Mrs. Blackwell helped coordinate British Prime Minister Anthony Eden’s visit to Goldeneye, planting tropical flowers and bushes in the gardens. Fleming’s wife, who was having an affair of her own with a British politician, Hugh Gaitskell, later tore out what she called the “ugly shrubs.”
It is widely believed that Mrs. Blackwell was the inspiration for one of Fleming’s most memorable female characters, Pussy Galore, the bisexual leader of a female criminal gang in “Goldfinger.” Another character, the Jamaican-born Honeychile Rider in “Dr. No” (renamed Honey Ryder and played by Ursula Andress in the film) was also thought to be modeled after Mrs. Blackwell.
“She was a sort of macho female,” Chris Blackwell told Vanity Fair in 2012. “The relationship they had, how she and Ian bonded, was that they were both into doing things: climbing these falls, going into those caves, swimming here, snorkeling there.”
One of the gifts Mrs. Blackwell gave Fleming was a small fishing boat, which he named Octopussy. The title of the 14th and final Bond book, “Octopussy and the Living Daylights,” was published in 1966, two years after Fleming’s death at age 56. (He was also the author of the children’s classic “Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang.”)
Mrs. Blackwell did not attend Fleming’s funeral. Afterward, Ann Fleming reportedly told the manager of Goldeneye that he could rent the estate to anyone “except Blanche Blackwell.”
“She disliked me,” Mrs. Blackwell said in 2012, “but I can’t blame her.”
Blanche Lindo was descended from a Sephardic Jewish family that fled persecution in Portugal and eventually settled in Jamaica. The Lindos were one of about 20 prominent families that dominated much of the island’s commerce through the 19th century.
After business reversals, several members of the family moved to Costa Rica, where Blanche was born Dec. 9, 1912. After replenishing their wealth, they returned to Jamaica, where her father owned property and a rum distillery. Blanche had private tutors and attended a finishing school in England.
In the 1930s, she married Middleton Joseph Blackwell, a military officer and heir to a British food fortune. They later divorced.
Their son, Chris Blackwell, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001 as “the single person most responsible for turning the world on to reggae music.” Mrs. Blackwell’s other survivors include two grandsons.
In 1976, Goldeneye was bought by reggae star Bob Marley, whose recordings were produced by Mrs. Blackwell’s son. Marley later sold the estate to Chris Blackwell, who transformed Goldeneye into a luxury resort, where his mother had a cottage.
Mrs. Blackwell spent her final years in London, where she was interviewed in 2008 by writer Ian Thomson for his book about Jamaica, “The Dead Yard.” She spoke of her earlier admirers by their first names.
“Ian was an angel,” she recalled. “Errol was another angel. Both lovely men — both exceptionally manly and definitely not for domesticating!”
At 95 and nearly blind, Mrs. Blackwell had lost none of her charm.
“Not that I should complain,” she said, reaching for a rose. “I’ve had a marvellous life. Do smell my pink rose.”


If you have not yet bought the Ian Fleming biography by Andrew Lycett you can do so on Amazon US (Hardcover at only $13,38)  here and Amazon UK here (hardback at only £4.16).

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Added to the collection: Four very rare chinease James Bond novels

Added to my collection of James Bond books from around the world with appealing covers are the below for James Bond novels from both Ian Fleming and John Gardner.

The titles are Live and let die, Goldfinger, Role of Honour, For your eyes only and Nobody lives forever (spelled "for ever"). A funny thing about these books is that For your eyes only and Nobody lives forever are both put together in one book. This is the first time I have ever come across a collection of James Bond novels were both the work of Ian Fleming and John Gardner are in the same book.

The one thing I have trouble finding out with these James Bond stories are if they are legit and royalties have been paid out or if they are pirated.

Below are pictures of the cover artwork for the different books.

Live and let die by Ian Fleming

Nobody lives forever by John Gardner & For Your eyes only  by Ian Fleming

Role of Honour by John Gardner

Goldfinger by Ian Fleming

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

The amount of words Anthony Horowitz has written on his next James Bond novel

As a swedish citizen there ain't much in the world of James Bond we can be proud of. Just a few things.

James Bond committed his second and final killing in Sweden, Stockholm, Old Town that "awarded" him with the double O prefix. (Read more about that here)

John Gardner turned to Sweden during the eighties for Bond's latest car. He chose the Swedish SAAB 900 and called it the Silver Beast.

The of course we have the film. They have never taking place in Sweden but you are all familiar with the Swedish actresses who has appeared in the films. No need to name names.

So during this morning I wanted to ask Anthony Horowitz how his next James Bond novel i shaping up and at the same time ask him if James Bond might travel to Sweden soon. As a picture to spread the feeling of Bond traveling to Sweden in the late fifties I used a Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS) poster from that time.

Mr Horowitz was quick to reply in his usual tongue in cheek way That he has up until now written four words on the upcoming book and then he says regarding my Swedish question "And he does".

No did Mr Horowitz write this only to be funny / polite or will we actually see James Bond revisiting Sweden for the first time since Ian Fleming's first novel Casino Royale released in 1953 or the John Pearson novel James Bond The Authorized Biography released 1973.

I guess time / Horowitz will tell closer upon release of his next Bond book in 2018 (read more about the date here)

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Added to the collection: The amazing James Bond books from Folio

I received an amazing package this week. It was from well known British publishers The Folio Society. The package contained there three newly released James Bond books: Casino Royale, From Russia With Love and Dr. No.

These books will be a very nice set to have in any James Bond collection.  If you are just starting your collection I would recommend The Folio Society editions over the old First Edition Library that cost way more.

On The Folio Society web page they are calling it "our best-selling James Bond series" so we can anticipate that these books are selling rapidly and that there will be more titles to come later on. Actually my copy of Casino Royale states "second printing" so they do seem to sell very well.

The books have fantastic illustrations by Fay Dalton. She seems to be a one of a kind in drawing the 50's with a mature and respectful way of making women sexy. More with finesse then anything else. You can see bits of her other work here!

I know there are collectors out there who have ordered two sets of the books but if you only order one set then make sure to remove the plastic protection to enjoy the books in full. They will be worth more to you if you can enjoy all the drawings by Fay Dalton. If I could make one little request for the upcoming titles it would be that the books themself also contained the drawing used on the slipcase. Just to have one drawing more in the book safe and sound between pages. 

I have contacted The Folio Society hoping to be able to do an interview with the team behind the books in a later blog post.

If you wish to purchase these books I do emphasize that you do so on the Folio website that you can find here! Some people are trying to sell these at Ebay for a higher price then ordering direct from Folio and that is just silly. To my knowledge you will get the best price over at Folio were each book cost £34,95. There you can also see some additional drawings contained in each book.

I hope to have many reasons in the future to come back to this series.

Some facts about the books.

Bound in blocked cloth
Set in Miller Text with Folio
Frontispiece and 6 colour illustrations
Printed slipcase 9" x 6¼"

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

The complete set of James Bond: Hammerhead covers

A few weeks back Dynamite Entertainment released the hardback version of James Bond: Hammerhead.

Hammerhead was written by Andy Diggle and the artist was Luca Casalanguida. The story was spread between six issues and as mentioned above is now released in a hardback.

As mentioned in previous blog posts regarding these comics the first issues always comes in a few different cover designs for hardcore collectors to try to obtain.

I have added this hardback to my own collection now and am looking forward to reading it. Luca Casalanguida has made an amazing job with the illustrations.

Issue six that has been used as the header for this blog post must have find its inspiration from the teaser campaign for the 1969 James Bond film "On her majesty's secret service" that you can see here.

If you still have not bought the James Bond: Hammerhead hardback you can do so at a very good price over at Amazon US or Amazon UK.


Monday, 26 June 2017

O.H.M.S.S. cutting continuity script up for sale at auction

On June 27th, 2017 there will be an auction held in Calabasas, California in the US with lots of items connected to the movies for sale. Some of these items are connected to James Bond.

One of the items I was planing to bid on was a script of "On her majesty's secret service" signed by George Lazenby, Richard Maibaum and Peter Raven. The reason I am interested in the scripts are to see if any changes actually were made to the James Bond films that was originally in the script. For a few minutes I was ecstatic about what I was offered to bid on. But then I understood that this was not a usual script....

This was a cutting continuity script dated December 1969. In other words it was printed just days before the London premiere on December 18th 1969.
I have worked with films and distribution for many years now and since my home country (Sweden) subtitle all films from abroad we always get these dialogue scripts sent to us for the translator to use when setting the translation. In other words, what is on sale here is not a script written before the shooting of the film began. This "script" is only showing the cuts and the dialogue and not whether the scene is exterior or interior etc.

In other words this document contains all dialogue in the film and notifications on were sound effects has been added and were the cuts are. The dating in December also shows that this script will not contain any deleted scenes since the prints were ready to be made. To me and my interest this is a much weaker collectable to own then I first thought I had in front of me. Especially when the starting price is $1 000.

Below is the actual description of the item as written by the action house:

936. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service book bound cutting continuity script signed by George Lazenby and writers. (United Artists, 1969) Vintage original studio bound and bradded 170+ page Cutting Continuity script. Dated, “December, 1969” on the interior title page and signed in black ink below by, “George Lazenby, and writers, ‘Dick Maibaum” and “Peter Raven”. Bound in a hardcover board binding with gold gilt embossed title and “007”on the cover and spine. While pages are 3-hole punched in the left margin for bradding, the book is bound by the tops of the sheets. Some paper surface loss to interior front cover, not affecting content or integrity of the binding. In vintage very fine condition. $1,000 - $1,500

What is your take on the collectable for sale here? Is this something you feel the need to have in your collection? Please comment below. I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

If you wish to place a bid on this auction you can be the first to do so here. It will be interesting to see what the sales price + 28% commission will be.

UPDATE: Item sold for $4.000 +28% commission. The total became $5.120 

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Have you ever heard about The Ian Fleming Foundation?

Have you ever heard about The Ian Fleming Foundation?

Maybe you have visited the London Film Museum and the Bond in motion exhibition but without knowing who actually own most of the cars offered on display.

This will be a very short blog post because I am planing to pass you forward to an interview with Mark VanBlaricum who is one of the founders of The Ian Fleming Foundation.

In the below video from YouTube you can hear him tell the tail about how The Ian Fleming Foundation came to be and why. I find the story very interesting.

During the 90's the foundation produced a magazine called Goldeneye focusing on all things James Bond and Ian Fleming. I only have one or two of these in my collection but some of them are available on Ebay.

Now sit back and enjoy the below interview about how The Ian Fleming Foundation came to be.

Below is the Goldeneye magazine that they produced during the 90's.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Moonraker US cover restoration

Some people turn to yoga for relaxation and others turn to alcohol. I seem to have found a method for relaxation that I find both rewarding and fun at the same time. I retouch old James Bond book covers using Photoshop.

Being a James Bond collector is almost as being a hoarder. We collect far more then we need and even more then we have space for. Therefore I am extra happy when I decide not to buy a book and to just restore the artwork and be satisfied with a JPEG on my computer. As the saying goes "You can't bring it with you..."

So today, there was an auction on Ebay for a US first edition of MOONRAKER that I was planing to bid on. But instead I decided to just use a high resolution scan of the artwork and try to restore it. Especially since I am not to impressed with the design of the artwork that was made by Leo Manso.

Below you can see the finished restoration that took me about 40 minutes.

While doing this I came to think about something. Could the US Moonraker jacked design be the inspiration for the later UK jacket design for Thunderball. Both of the shows a skeleton hand. What is your opinion. Please comment below.

Click on the picture to see a bigger version. 

Thunderball UK first edition dust jacket.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Added to the collection: DR. NO original comic strip from 1960

In conjunction with's current contest regarding the James Bond comics I thought it would be a good idea to show the readers a new edition to my Fleming / James Bond collection.

As most of you may know The Daily Express ran all of the James Bond novels as daily strips during the 50's and 60's.

The comic's artist who got the job of drawing the strips was John McLusky.

The sixth comic to be released was Dr. No and it ran in the Daily Express between May and October 1960. The story was written by Peter O'Donnell who is widely famous for creating Modesty Blaise.  And from the Dr No story I have the second strip which is numbered 585. In other words, I own a comic strip created two years before Sean Connery became James Bond with the entire world.

On the strip we see an angry James Bond just coming out of M's office talking to Bill Tanner who makes fun of Bond's lack of interest in his mission in Jamaica. 

What's is interesting to see on my strip is that in the final frame McLusky has changed the complete image of Bond with a new one. The detail on the drawings are also far better then they were in the Titan Books 2005 edition as you can see below.

I paid £200 for this strip and I am truly happy to finally own one. I have been wanting to add some strips to my collection for a very long time. The James Bond comic ran monthly in Sweden between 1965 and 1995 so I have been growing up with all these comic stories and have every single comic in my collection. They are around 300 comics.

If any reader of this blog post has a strip for sale, please contact me.

If you wish to order the remastered editions of the original comic books from Titan books you can do so on Amazon US or Amazon UK.

The full strip measuring 45x13cm (18x5,2 inches)  
Close up of the third frame were Bond has been changed.
The quality of the Titan Books 2005 edition is a bit weaker then the original drawing.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

What Swedes don't know about Ian Fleming

I started collecting James Bond books at the age of 14 back in 1990. I did miss the opportunity to see LICENCE TO KILL at the cinema and had to wait another five years until GOLDENEYE was released. During that time most you fans would have given up on James Bond if they had to wait as long as I did.

Since James Bond is not a Swedish character and Ian Fleming is no longer a household name here I have always felt like a goof or nerd for enjoying the books as much as I do. When the subject of my collection has come up I still find it troublesome to talk about. I get the feeling that Swedes just don't understand how big Ian Fleming was during his last years alive.

But going through my collection the other day I noticed something that I have been longing to find for decades. It was on the backside of the Swedish edition of Kingsley Amis THE JAMES BOND DOSSIER (released is Sweden under the name "The Case James Bond") On the back of that book it says the following very interesting sentence.
"What is it with Agent 007 that makes the books about him being sold by the millions and even in Sweden sold in 800 000 copies soon". 

Now wee need to take a few things under consideration here.

THE JAMES BOND DOSSIER was released in Sweden in 1965 (same year as in the UK).

According to this website the population in Sweden was 7 777 000 in 1965 (look at the population figures twice).

To be a British spy writer in the UK selling 800 000 copies as early as in 1965 must be considered an fantastic achievement back then. The books were to be released many times after 1965 by the Swedish publishers Albert Bonniers Förlag. My guess is that Ian Fleming have managed to sell more then one million copies in Sweden alone.

And rumour has it that the books will soon be released in Sweden again. This time by publisher Modernista.

So from this day forward I will never feel ashamed of my collection and hobby. Ian Fleming is clearly a household name with in the elder generation of Sweden.

PS. Let me just mention that according to an article on Swedish publishers Albert Bonniers Förlag was quick on their heels. Sweden was the third country in the world (after UK and US) to publish Casino Royale back in 1955.

A wonderful cover design for DR. NO titled DEATH IN JAMAICA in Sweden. This edition released in 1965. 

Swedish edition of THE JAMES BOND DOSSIER.

Text in Swedish regarding the 800 000 sold copies.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Is this how 007 got his number?

Many sources are claiming to be the true source to where Ian Fleming got the, now world wide famous, number for his British spy with a license to kill.

One of the latest theories that surfaced during 2015 is that Fleming got the number from a bus travelling to his house in Kent.

But someone who should know what he talks about is Ian Fleming biographer Andrew Lycett who claims that Ian Fleming did not have to look far for the number he would give his agent. The number is said to be taken from the NID's  (Naval Intelligence Division) great triumph in the first world war. 0070 was the German diplomatic code used to send telegrams from Berlin to Washington. It was cracked by British cryptanalysts in Room 40 (Fleming spent the second world war in Room 39). This later led to the Americans entering the conflict of the first world war.

So sadly the Andrew Lycett theory is not more exiting then that. Have you heard other theories? Then please comment below.

You can read more about Ian Fleming in Andrews excellent biography that you can order on Amazon US here and Amazon UK here.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

The Steve Cole interview on release day of RED NEMESIS

Today is the release day of Steve Cole's forth and final Young Bond novel RED NEMESIS in the UK and to celebrate the occasion James Bond - The Secret Agent blog has been granted an interview with the writer himself.

Lets get right to it!

How does it feel to be releasing your forth and final Young Bond novel? Was it time for a break?
I signed up for four books right from the start, with a specific story arc in mind, so I’ve done what I set out to do!

Could you take the blog readers through the process of writing RED NEMESIS?
Blood, sweat, tears, more sweat, more blood… For my last one, I upped the stakes a little, made things very full on for both James and myself. I wrote more of this book in the dead of night than at any other time… no wonder it came out a little darker than some!

How much input do you get from Ian Fleming Publications and is Eon Productions in any way taking part in the process?
Eon Productions have nothing to do with it. Ian Fleming Publications are very much involved in approving content and green lighting characters, titles and plots, as well as hands-on editing.

Would you like to write a James Bond novel like the classic ones with a mission and so forth?
There are all sorts of stories I’d like to tell with Bond, at different times in his life. The character definitely gets under your skin!

How does it feel to write young adult books, that will be read by 007 fans of all ages? Do you take that in consideration?
Absolutely. I never write down to an audience, and aim to engage readers of all ages – particularly for 007 fans I slip in a few injokes and references so long as they’re not distracting. Anthony Horowitz was quick to pick me up on this the first time we met, he spotted them all I think!

What will you be writing next?
I look forward to finding out.

What is your favourite Bond novel and Young Bond novel? And why?
On Her Majesty's Secret Service and From Russia With Love are my favourites, the drive and pace of the stories is exceptional. Of my own Young Bonds, I’d say Red Nemesis is probably my favourite because I got to go a bit deeper into James’s past – and his head.

Fans are very much into the cover designs, From all the books do you have a favourite of your own?
I’ve been delighted with the covers. Heads You Die and Red Nemesis are my favourites.

What are your thoughts on Fleming’s writing?
A true one-off: the realism, the authenticity, the action, the level of detail… He balanced cold forensic eye and hot-blooded appetite like no other.

Being on tour in schools have your heard of any kids reading your books and then followed up with Fleming’s books?
Yes, and vice versa, which is nice. I was amused to find a school diary from when I was 9 years old the other day, listing that over Christmas I read two chapters of James Bond and Moonraker, the film novelisation (which I’d bought for my mum as a present!), making that the first Bond fiction I ever read.

I had the pleasure of seeing you in action with school kids. You were like the Duracell rabbit with tons of information and answers to their questions. It was a real treat to see. Why did you decide to write Children’s books instead of adults?
Kids are more fun! They can be a tough crowd to write for but a rewarding one. I enjoy the freedom and also the challenge of writing for young people, particularly as they get older. Having a character like Bond is a great way of giving a hook to kids who might not particularly want to read; they like the character and the action and they know they’ll get a take on that.

If you have not already purchased Red Nemesis that is released today you can do so on Amazon UK by following this link.

Steve Cole

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