There is perhaps no fictional character more produced in writing and film than the suave, intelligent, and mysterious James Bond. After his time serving in the British Naval Intelligence Division during World War II, Ian Fleming took to Jamaica in 1952 and spent two months distracting himself from his upcoming betrothal to a pregnant fiancé by dreaming up his greatest character. Fleming chose the name “James Bond” for its simpleness and frank masculinity, and bestowed upon the character many of his own personal traits, such as a love for drinking, golf, and gambling. In 1953, Fleming published Casino Royale, bringing the readers of the UK into what would soon become the idolized world of 007.

First Edition of Casino Royale by Ian Fleming, Inscribed

First Edition of Casino Royale by Ian Fleming, Inscribed

Within the first few pages Fleming had introduced most of Bond’s idiosyncrasies and trademarks, which included his looks, his Bentley and his smoking and drinking habits. The full details of Bond’s martini were kept until chapter seven of the book and Bond eventually named it ‘The Vesper’, after Vesper Lynd. (Andrew Lycett)

After his success with Casino Royale, Fleming used the finances he earned to purchase Gildrose Publications, later named Ian Fleming Publications in 1999. Today the publishing house is still the owner of the entire Bond franchise. Fleming continued to work his full-time job as a Foreign Manager at the UK based Kemsley newspaper group, which owned The Sunday Times. Each year, he used his 3-month holiday time to write and publish a new book in the James Bond series. The books were published as follows: Live and Let Die in 1954, Moonraker in 1955, Diamonds Are Forever in 1956, From Russia with Love in 1957, Dr. No in 1958, Goldfinger in 1959, and For Your Eyes Only in 1960. Later came a collection of short Bond series including Thunderball in 1961, The Spy Who Loved Me in 1962, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service in 1963, and You Only Live Twice in 1964. Fleming’s final two books, 1965’s The Man with the Golden Gun and 1966’s Octopussy were published after his death.

First Edition of Live and Let Die by Ian Fleming

Rare First Edition of Live and Let Die by Ian Fleming

The second book in the Bond series, Live and Let Die, was also written while Fleming was in Jamaica. The book itself reveals Fleming’s vast knowledge of U.S. travel and of Jamaica itself. The book was described as “is an ingenious affair, full of recondite knowledge and horrific spills and thrills – of slightly sadistic excitements also – though without the simple and bold design of its predecessor.” The second novel of 007 ignited a new, or revived, form of popular culture in the UK and abroad.

Fleming accomplished an extraordinary amount in the history of the thriller. Almost single-handedly, he revived popular interest in the spy novel, spawning legions of imitations, parodies, and critical and fictional reactions Through the immense success of the filmed versions of his books, his character James Bond became the best known fictional personality of his time and Fleming the most famous writer of thrillers since Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Today Live and Let Die is considered one of the most controversial novel of Fleming’s because of its depiction of the novel’s “locals.” Regardless it still holds all the quintessential plot points of Bond’s world; gambling and mysteriously found dead bodies, yachts and private wealth, secret operations, a beautiful yet dangerous female antagonist, and a gruesome, bloody end for the bad guys.

First Edition of Goldfinger by Ian Fleming, Warmly Inscribed by the Author

First Edition of Goldfinger by Ian Fleming, Warmly Inscribed by the Author

Though it was already Fleming’s seventh book in the James Bond saga, Goldfinger is considered the “quintessential example of both the novels and the movies.” The book begins in Miami, when Bond is paid to confirm an acquaintance’s suspicions that the villain of the novel, Goldfinger, is cheating at cards. Bond convinces Goldfinger to pay back the money he won through cheating. When Bond returns to London, he discovers that Goldfinger is one of the world’s top gold smugglers and is soon to be aided by mobster Pussy Galore in a major heist, “Operation Grand Slam.” Originally drafted under the working title of The Richest Man in the World, the novel Goldfinger is the first of the Bond novels to pin down the great motif of technology and gadgets used in the later books and movies.

First Edition of For Your Eyes Only by Ian Fleming

First Edition of For Your Eyes Only by Ian Fleming

For Your Eyes Only, in 1981 the twelfth film of James Bond and the fifth movie starring Richard Moore, was considered a change of pace for Fleming, who had up to that point only written novels about 007. The five stories it contains were originally written for television, scripts intended to be picked up by CBS. However not all of the stories made the cut. The third story, “Quantum of Solace,” was an experimental piece that Fleming actually wrote for Cosmopolitan and contained no references to being a secret agent. Thought likely to confuse audiences, it was one of two stories that were never adapted to film or television, the second being “007 in New York” from Octopussy. Though never adapted to the screen, “007 in New York” served as great consolation to New York fans of the Bond series because Fleming had never until that point outwardly shown dislike of the Big Apple.

There are currently 12 first edition works of James Bond available, most of which are signed or inscribed. Also available is Roger Moore’s James Bond Diary, signed by Roger Moore.