Unfinished Ian Fleming Manuscript Rumour about Kingsley Amis's Colonel Sun (1968)?

DragonpolDragonpol https://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
edited January 2020 in Literary 007 Posts: 17,640
I'm researching (and writing) something on Kingsley Amis's Colonel Sun and I was wondering if anyone else had heard the rumour that it was supposedly Fleming's 15th book finished after his death. Of course I just want to make clear here in the OP that this rumour is completely false in nature.

Has anyone else ever read this rumour anywhere just out of interest?

If you can remember where you read it, that would be great too!

Thanks,

D.
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Comments

  • mcdonbbmcdonbb deep in the Heart of Texas
    edited October 2015 Posts: 4,116
    The publishers finished TMWGG and Fleming left some notes of future ideas but I don't recall any if them similar to CS.

    I could be wrong.
  • Posts: 7,653
    For me TMWTGG feels like a Fleming novel, it has albeit a somewhat unfinished feeling to it but I believe that the book was mostly written by Fleming with a wee touch up perhaps from another writer but as he or the publishers never choose to comment on this particular matter I have to accept that it is perhaps Fleming's first draft that is published.
  • Posts: 9,671
    The forward before colonel sun from Amis himself cites that Colonel sun came out of conversation between himself and Fleming while Fleming was in the hospital and then Amis spent a few years working on making rough outline he and Fleming had into a novel. So that is that pretty much.
  • DragonpolDragonpol https://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    edited October 2015 Posts: 17,640
    Risico007 wrote: »
    The forward before colonel sun from Amis himself cites that Colonel sun came out of conversation between himself and Fleming while Fleming was in the hospital and then Amis spent a few years working on making rough outline he and Fleming had into a novel. So that is that pretty much.

    Is that the Sir Kingsley Amis forward to the Coronet edition, dated 1991 in London? It's just that my edition definitely does not say that at all. What is your exact source for this information, @Risico007?
  • edited October 2015 Posts: 9,671
    Dragonpol wrote: »
    Risico007 wrote: »
    The forward before colonel sun from Amis himself cites that Colonel sun came out of conversation between himself and Fleming while Fleming was in the hospital and then Amis spent a few years working on making rough outline he and Fleming had into a novel. So that is that pretty much.

    Is that the Sir Kingsley Amis forward to the Coronet edition, dated 1991 in London? It's just that my edition definitely does not say that at all. What is your exact source for this information, @Risico007?

    It is the 1991 one maybe I am misremeebering
  • DragonpolDragonpol https://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    Posts: 17,640
    Risico007 wrote: »
    Dragonpol wrote: »
    Risico007 wrote: »
    The forward before colonel sun from Amis himself cites that Colonel sun came out of conversation between himself and Fleming while Fleming was in the hospital and then Amis spent a few years working on making rough outline he and Fleming had into a novel. So that is that pretty much.

    Is that the Sir Kingsley Amis forward to the Coronet edition, dated 1991 in London? It's just that my edition definitely does not say that at all. What is your exact source for this information, @Risico007?

    It is the 1991 one maybe I am misremeebering

    Yes, I think you must be. Have a little look over it again.
  • DragonpolDragonpol https://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    edited February 2016 Posts: 17,640
    Does anyone else want to share their thoughts on this one?

    Have you by chance heard this rumour?

    The article is being written as I type!

    All help is mightily appreciated! :)
  • ThunderfingerThunderfinger Das Boot Hill
    Posts: 45,489
    Wasn t it Amis who finished TMWTGG? Could that be the source of this rumour?
  • DragonpolDragonpol https://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    edited February 2016 Posts: 17,640
    Wasn t it Amis who finished TMWTGG? Could that be the source of this rumour?

    I think I've found some of the sources of it although its first use probably still eludes me but even so there's enough there of interest to turn this into a new article.

    And no, Amis didn't finish TMWTGG. He was merely paid to look over the manuscript and suggest places where it could be beefed up. It's my belief that he never actually edited any of it himself. My friend the Bond expert and spy author Jeremy Duns has also come to this conclusion based on the letter that is reproduced in Amis' Collected Letter, as edited by Zachary Leader. That said, yes that rumour is somewhat similar but I think that the Colonel Sun rumour probably started out in a fanzine like Bondage, the journal of the now defunct American James Bond Fan Club, possibly some time in the 1970s.

    By the way, if anyone has early editions of Bondage magazine from the 1970s could they possibly check for any mentions of this particular Colonel Sun rumour and PM me if they find anything? I'd be most grateful...
  • WalecsWalecs On Her Majesty's Secret Service
    edited February 2016 Posts: 3,157
    Had Colonel Sun been written by Fleming, wouldn't its publisher advertise the fact that it had been written by Bond's creator instead of selling it with the name of someone less known (especially considering that Amis used a pseudonym)?
  • TheWizardOfIceTheWizardOfIce 'One of the Internet's more toxic individuals'
    Posts: 9,117
    Walecs wrote: »
    Had Colonel Sun been written by Fleming, wouldn't its publisher advertise the fact that it had been written by Bond's creator instead of selling it with the name of someone less known (especcially considering that Amis used a pseudonym)?

    This is a very good point which indicates that the rumours are almost certainly false.

    You would at least put 'based on ideas by Ian Fleming' or something because who the hell is Robert Markham?

    By the way does anyone know why it wasn't published under Amis's own name? It must have hurt sales surely to label it with the name of a non entity. Basically the exact opposite strategy they employ these days with their celebrity authors doing one book each.
  • royale65royale65 Caustic misanthrope reporting for duty.
    Posts: 4,414
    I do believe that Robert Markham was an umbrella - a stage name name - to allow other authors to come in a write a new Bond novel. Why, I don't know.
  • TheWizardOfIceTheWizardOfIce 'One of the Internet's more toxic individuals'
    Posts: 9,117
    Birdleson wrote: »
    royale65 wrote: »
    I do believe that Robert Markham was an umbrella - a stage name name - to allow other authors to come in a write a new Bond novel. Why, I don't know.

    That was the plan. To continue on with famous writers using the same pseudonym.

    Oh yeah of course. I need to get myself checked for Alzheimer's.
  • Posts: 5,767
    I have a German edition from Kaiser which has the name Ian Fleming written on the front cover directly above and slightly bigger than the name Robert Markham.
    There´s no clear indication given when it was printed. There´s only something written about copyright and 1968, but that was the year the novel was first published, wasn´t it?
  • DragonpolDragonpol https://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    Posts: 17,640
    boldfinger wrote: »
    I have a German edition from Kaiser which has the name Ian Fleming written on the front cover directly above and slightly bigger than the name Robert Markham.
    There´s no clear indication given when it was printed. There´s only something written about copyright and 1968, but that was the year the novel was first published, wasn´t it?

    Thank you for that information, @boldfinger - that is very interesting from a marketing point of view!

    And yes, Colonel Sun was published on 28 March 1968.
  • DragonpolDragonpol https://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    Posts: 17,640
    Anyone else want to throw in their tuppence on this topic? I'd be most grateful! :)
  • MrcogginsMrcoggins Following in the footsteps of Quentin Quigley.
    Posts: 3,144
    Colonel Sun was released on March 28 at the request of Mrs Ann Fleming so as not to coincide with birthday of her late husband Ian as she did not approve of the book completely .
  • DragonpolDragonpol https://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    Posts: 17,640
    Mrcoggins wrote: »
    Colonel Sun was released on March 28 at the request of Mrs Ann Fleming so as not to coincide with birthday of her late husband Ian as she did not approve of the book completely .

    Thank you @Mrcoggins. I've not heard that before, but it makes sense as Ann hated Amis and Colonel Sun and the whole continuation Bond idea more generally of course.
  • echoecho 007 in New York
    Posts: 5,876
    SaintMark wrote: »
    For me TMWTGG feels like a Fleming novel, it has albeit a somewhat unfinished feeling to it but I believe that the book was mostly written by Fleming with a wee touch up perhaps from another writer but as he or the publishers never choose to comment on this particular matter I have to accept that it is perhaps Fleming's first draft that is published.

    My understanding is that Fleming wrote the first draft of TMWTGG in the winter at Goldeneye as he always did, but then died before he could rewrite it back in London.
  • JamesBondKenyaJamesBondKenya Danny Boyle laughs to himself
    Posts: 2,730
    My knowledge on the Fleming books is limited how much of colonel sun is Fleming or none of it?
  • Fleming did not write any of Colonel Sun. As echo says, I believe Fleming didn't even have time to give TMWTGG his final polish.
  • Posts: 844
    In the official site of IFP, it is witten in the biography of Fleming (http://www.ianfleming.com/ian-fleming/), I quote : "The Man with the Golden Gun, which was redrafted and edited by author Kingsley Amis and published posthumously in 1965".

    When I send them a mail for having explainations about this, they never reply to me...
  • ClarkDevlinClarkDevlin Martinis, Girls and Guns
    edited April 2017 Posts: 15,423
    I don't think Fleming ever had a hand in Colonel Sun. But, I do believe he did see some outlines Geoffrey Jenkins did for the ill-fated Per Fine Ounce and apparently, he gave him his blessing. At least, that's what I remember reading.
  • Posts: 520
    PussyNoMore can confirm that Fleming had nothing to do with CS.
    It was a completely independent and quite brilliant work from Amis that stands out as absolutely the best Bond continuation thus far albeit Horowitz is giving him a run for this accolade.
    Using the pseudonym 'Robert Markham' was an idiotic marketing move from IFP (then Gildrose). Putting Kingsley's name on it would have quadrupled sales as he was a huge name in his own right.
    PussyNoMore is the proud owner of a JC UK 1st edition and can confirm that there is no mention of Amis or indeed input from Fleming.
  • ClarkDevlinClarkDevlin Martinis, Girls and Guns
    Posts: 15,423
    I still don't know to this day why did they have to use that pseudonym. Who's Robert Markham supposed to be, anyway? Don't remember him being a character from the Fleming books if that was the intention.
  • Posts: 2,879
    I still don't know to this day why did they have to use that pseudonym. Who's Robert Markham supposed to be, anyway? Don't remember him being a character from the Fleming books if that was the intention.

    The original plan was to have multiple authors write continuation novels, all under the name of "Robert Markham," presumably chosen because it sounded like a nondescript nom-de-plume. But Colonel Sun did not sell as well as expected and the plan fell through, making Amis the only author to appear as Markham. Perhaps there's an alternate universe out there where Bond novels by a dozen different writers have been published continuously from 1968 to the present day, all under the pseudonym of "Robert Markham."
  • edited April 2017 Posts: 4,622
    Mrcoggins wrote: »
    Colonel Sun was released on March 28 at the request of Mrs Ann Fleming so as not to coincide with birthday of her late husband Ian as she did not approve of the book completely .

    I can relate to Ann. As a teenager reading Fleming for the first time, I found when I got to CS, I didn't quite like it. Readable yes. Even thankful, that here was post-Fleming bonus Bond reading, but still I found it "off."
    I am somewhat grateful that Amis was not conscripted to write another.
    The Pearson effort released a few years later(1973) I found to be much more to my liking and quite Fleming worthy.
  • Posts: 3,210
    timmer wrote: »
    Mrcoggins wrote: »
    Colonel Sun was released on March 28 at the request of Mrs Ann Fleming so as not to coincide with birthday of her late husband Ian as she did not approve of the book completely .

    I can relate to Ann. As a teenager reading Fleming for the first time, I found when I got to CS, I didn't quite like it. Readable yes. Even thankful, that here was post-Fleming bonus Bond reading, but still I found it "off."
    I am somewhat grateful that Amis was not conscripted to write another.
    The Pearson effort released a few years later(1973) I found to be much more to my liking and quite Fleming worthy.

    I was never really keen on CS either. Having read it again recently it became very apparent that Amis couldn't get inside Bond's head and thoughts like Fleming effortlessly could.

    And the reason for this is because Bond is Fleming. Bond's thoughts are Fleming's thoughts. And this is why no writer since has managed to pull off a novel as good as the ones Fleming wrote.
  • edited April 2017 Posts: 2,879
    timmer wrote: »
    I can relate to Ann.

    I don't think you do--Ann's hatred for the book verged into illogical nastiness. She incorrectly predicted that “Amis will slip Lucky Jim into Bond’s clothing, we shall have a petit bourgeois red-brick Bond, he will resent the authority of M., then the discipline of the Secret Service, and end as Philby Bond selling his country to SPECTRE.” She further embrassed herself by adding "I think Amis should publish under his own name and show the world his left-wing intellectual pretensions were easily turned to money-grubbing--like everyone else." Whatever else one can say about Colonel Sun, it is hardly left-wing and does not reads in the slightest like it was written for the money.

    But it is the only Bond continuation novel written by a great novelist (as shown in its prose style) who was a keen student on Fleming. Amis literally wrote the book on Bond and his knowledge and love of the subject show through every page of Colonel Sun and give it an authenticity missing from subsequent characterizations. The book skillfully combines the themes and strength of Dr. No and Moonraker into a new whole.
    The Pearson effort released a few years later(1973) I found to be much more to my liking and quite Fleming worthy.

    Pearson's book is great, but it's a much different work than a Bond novel and skillfully deviates from Fleming in many ways.
    Birdleson wrote: »
    I enjoy CS quite a bit. No, it's not Fleming, but nor should it be. I find it to be the most engaging and well-written of the continuation novels (I haven't read any Benson, to be honest).

    Agreed. I read Benson's first book and that was more than enough. Some good Bondian ideas, but wince-inducing prose and characterization. Still, he was a partial relief after Gardner's increasing dull and unBondian efforts.
  • edited April 2017 Posts: 4,622
    @Revelator
    Thank you for telling me what I might relate to.
    What we are actually learning though, is that you don't relate to Fleming's wife's anti-Amis rantings.
    She was a hot head. She and Ian were both kind of nuts.
    I relate to Ann in the sense that I really didn't like the book, not when I first read it, and I didn't much like it either when I read it again, a couple of years ago.
    Obviously Anne's politics clash with those of Amis, or at least she thinks they did.

    Anne is over the top, but she's laying it on because she clearly didn't want Amis anywhere near Bond.
    Amis' didn't do anything radical with Bond.
    His Bond is Flemings loyal duty bound agent.
    I am surmising her rant was a pre-emptive strike ahead of publication.

    She's not wrong about Amis' left wing intellectual pretensions. This bent wasn't exactly a secret. She chose to fixate on it. She probably overstates it, as his politics were rather fluid. He did evolve rightist leanings, so I don't​ think the book had any real bent.
    The book rather, infuses political blatherings into the narrative.
    But the political lecturing in CS, as puerile as it may be, is at least consistent with Fleming, in that Fleming was never shy about peppering his prose with his own provocative world views.
    Ariadne's marxist leanings are almost charming.
    There is an earnestness about her.
    I think Amis was using her and others as a mouthpiece, to get some food for thought out there. Spice things up.
    Speaking of spicey, Ariadne sure had much appeal as a Bond Girl. A very raw, almost animal sexuality.
    Darko Kerim might have felt a need to chain her under his kitchen table (FRWL)
    :P
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