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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.

"Ian Fleming had a very good imagination and would have thought he'd had quite a "good" war as an assistant to the director of Naval Intelligence.

"He accompanied him to various conferences, but never had any active service.

"Fleming also worked with the American Secret Service, the blueprint for the CIA.

"He knew a number of very important people and worked alongside Col William Donovan, the first director of the OSS (Operation of Strategic Services, created to coordinate US espionage activities behind enemy lines).

"Part of his job was to dream up schemes to plot the downfall of the Nazis.

"Some were implemented, some were thrown out and he carried that on with his books.

"Ian Fleming was aware, because he was working in intelligence, of certain sorts of apparatus and gadgets and he was meeting the people behind them.

"He had first hand accounts of what was going on. He stored the information and used it."

But Jon, a book dealer at rare book experts Adrian Harrington Limited, also points out that the novels had few gadgets compared with the films.

In the Goldfinger novel, for example, Bond had an Aston Martin DB3 - upgraded to a DB5 with ejector seat in the 1964 film.

Anyone with a fondness for this degree of Ian Fleming minutiae, will surely adore the bibliography. Now it's all over, Jon is determined to remain true to his roots, saying: "You can never really be a dealer and collector."

But even after this much effort, he'll always be a fan of Bond.

Ian Fleming: The Bibliography costs PS175 for the standard edition, PS250 for the limited edition Deluxe. As well as the 14 James Bond novels, the book also covers nonfiction works, The Diamond Smugglers and Thrilling Cities, Fleming's book for children Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang, as well as his more obscure articles, essays and contributions. Details from Queen Anne Press at or call 020 7229 0118.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Oct 25, 2012
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