The Original Milton Krest!

edited November 2019 in Literary 007 Posts: 2,300
As some of you may have heard, Sotheby's is about to auction off 95 of Ian Fleming's letters, along with 57 of Ann Fleming's letters to him. Since they are personal letters, very few were reproduced in The Man with the Golden Typewriter: Ian Fleming's James Bond Letters. The auction page contains detailed commentary and several excerpts. I found this passage especially interesting:
Travel itself still had a glamour in the 1950s...however [Fleming's[ cruise to the Seychelles in 1958 is damned by the company, which comprised “retired tea planters from Assam with washed out wives, [and] a dreadful American oil man – a poor man’s Hemingway who talks like Humphrey Bogart & shows off continually"

So, we've found the original of Milton Krest! I always wondered what made Fleming decided to give Krest the voice of Bogart--now we know there really was a man who talked like that (aside from Bogart himself!). Further proof of Fleming's magpie-like creative methods in crafting unique characters.

The Sotheby's page gives further details of the letters' Bondian content: Fleming tells Ann that Blanche Blackwood has given him a small boat which “is very good for the reef and I have christened OCTOPUSSY”. There are also progress reports like this one:
“Meanwhile the book is galloping along. I have written a third of it in one week – a chapter a day [...] The first half is about Russia & that has always interested me. They have decided to murder Bond. A beautiful spy called Titania Romanova is about to appear. Coo er!"

It would be a shame for these fascinating letters to disappear into some millionaire's storage vault. I hope the Fleming estate or an accessible university library will purchase them. Ideally all of Fleming's letters should be under one roof, in an institution accessible to researchers.

In The Golden Typewriter Fergus Fleming writes that "[Ian] Fleming’s stepdaughter Fionn Morgan, with a view to publishing a memoir of her own, has understandably withheld the majority of Fleming’s correspondence with his wife Ann." Since Fionn Morgan is the person who's offering the letters on Sotheby's, does this mean her book is finished?


  • BirdlesonBirdleson San Jose, CAModerator
    Posts: 31,006
    I’d love to read through them and find some more direct inspirations.
  • Posts: 2,300
    Yes, I think there are plenty more hidden in those letters, and I hope they will be eventually be disclosed!
  • ThunderfingerThunderfinger Enemy of the state
    Posts: 41,566
    Interesting revelation. Fleming had a habit of basing his villains (and other characters) on actual people he had encountered in his life, or knew about.
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