Unfinished Fleming Manuscript Rumour about Amis's Colonel Sun?

Silhouette ManSilhouette Man The last refuge of a scoundrelPosts: 7,614MI6 Agent
edited January 2020 in James Bond Literature
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,

SM. :) -{
"The tough man of the world. The Secret Agent. The man who was only a silhouette." - Ian Fleming, Moonraker (1955).
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Comments

  • stagstag Posts: 2,083MI6 Agent
    Although I'm not familiar with the novel I haven't heard this. An interesting theory yet perhaps had it been true it would have been far more widely reported? As it stands my cynical side suggests urban myth or that it may have been a marketing ploy by the publishers in order to drum up in interest & (free) publicity?
  • Sir MilesSir Miles The Wrong Side Of The WardrobePosts: 25,206Chief of Staff
    I've heard that story...but it was more in fanzines and the like - way before the Internet was up and running...doubt it's true though...
    YNWA 96
  • ThunderpussyThunderpussy Behind you !Posts: 63,697MI6 Agent
    I though Amis had already stated it was all his own work ?
    "I've been informed that there ARE a couple of QAnon supporters who are fairly regular posters in AJB."
  • welshboy78welshboy78 Posts: 9,855MI6 Agent
    Im sure Flemings estate would have cashed in on the facts if it had been true to sell more copies
    Instagram - bondclothes007
  • David SchofieldDavid Schofield EnglandPosts: 1,528MI6 Agent
    My recollection is a bit like Sir Miles but IIRC this rumour ran in the 70s in places like mags on the films - the mags released wirh LALD and TMWTGG for example - with foot notes as a sop to the books, often concluding with "Fleming was working on his next novel, COLONEL SUN, when he died. This was finished by Kingsley Amis writting as Robert Markham".

    Of course, back then Glidrose didn't do much monitoring of such nonsense. Or much else. So for a time it became an urban myth
  • superadosuperado Regent's Park West (CaliforniaPosts: 2,559MI6 Agent
    My recollection is a bit like Sir Miles but IIRC this rumour ran in the 70s in places like mags on the films - the mags released wirh LALD and TMWTGG for example - with foot notes as a sop to the books, often concluding with "Fleming was working on his next novel, COLONEL SUN, when he died. This was finished by Kingsley Amis writting as Robert Markham".

    Of course, back then Glidrose didn't do much monitoring of such nonsense. Or much else. So for a time it became an urban myth

    In the days dominated by print, it seems there was more room for hearsay and editorial errors that once printed, were then propagated by other article writers because snail mail made it tedious to make fact checks (and hence, why I think many Bond urban legends took life). I myself have never come across this rumor before reading this thread, but just looking at the possible ways certain facts could have gotten misconstrued, this whole business sounds too close to the rumored events surrounding the unfinished state of TMWTGG, particularly how (1) it was Fleming's last novel, (2) Fleming's death stopped his efforts on it short of a polish (3) Glidrose did ask Amis to look at the manuscript for which he gave feedback (not to get into my own theories and the plausibility of Amis ghost-writing the polish of TMWTGG, which got me suspended on CBn by a self-righteous, narcissistic admin who had strong feelings about it being that an absolute, snowball's chance in hell impossibility...but I digress)

    Because Amis was involved with both TMWTGG, Fleming's last novel as well as the 1st continuation Bond novel as its author, could these blurred associations be the source of an unintended "rumor" that Colonel Sun was Fleming's unfinished novel that Amis completed?
    "...the purposeful slant of his striding figure looked dangerous, as if he was making quickly for something bad that was happening further down the street." -SMERSH on 007 dossier photo, Ch. 6 FRWL.....
  • LoeffelholzLoeffelholz The United States, With LovePosts: 8,854Quartermasters
    It's an interesting theory, but it's my first time hearing it as well. It seems highly unlikely that Fleming, in failing health, could have done anything with CS given the difficulties he was having with TMWTGG (according to one Fleming bio I read) even before his passing.
    "Blood & Ashes"...AVAILABLE on Amazon.co.uk: Get 'Jaded': Blood & Ashes: The Debut Oscar Jade Thriller
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  • David SchofieldDavid Schofield EnglandPosts: 1,528MI6 Agent
    Quite convinced there's nothing in the rumour. Even the somnambulant Glidrose of the 60s wouldn't have failed to promote CS as a Fleming novel finished by Amis had it actually have been.

    And as Superado suggests, I think this story did circulate as a consequence of similar theories of the time like Amis finishing TMWTGG. My recollections come from 70s cinema mags: lit Bond of this period didn't have much puff - why would those writing about them in foot notes bother verify their sources?

    However, as an interesting point on the Fleming-CS theory: Pearson's AUTHORISED BIOGRAPHY simple includes CS as Bond's next mission after TMWTGG, as if it's all part of the same reality, without mentioning Amis, which suggests the implication is that Amis was in on the whole conceit in the first place or, indeed. that perhaps Amis was just a cover for something Fleming might possible have been working on.... :o
  • Silhouette ManSilhouette Man The last refuge of a scoundrelPosts: 7,614MI6 Agent
    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! :)
    "The tough man of the world. The Secret Agent. The man who was only a silhouette." - Ian Fleming, Moonraker (1955).
  • clublosclublos Jacksonville, FLPosts: 193MI6 Agent
    Looking forward to this article.

    I wish I could contribute but I'm not aware of this rumor...
  • Silhouette ManSilhouette Man The last refuge of a scoundrelPosts: 7,614MI6 Agent
    clublos wrote:
    Looking forward to this article.

    I wish I could contribute but I'm not aware of this rumor...

    Well thank you for commenting anyhow, clublos.

    I want this to be the first comeback article of 2016 for The Bondologist Blog. :) -{
    "The tough man of the world. The Secret Agent. The man who was only a silhouette." - Ian Fleming, Moonraker (1955).
  • Silhouette ManSilhouette Man The last refuge of a scoundrelPosts: 7,614MI6 Agent
    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...
    "The tough man of the world. The Secret Agent. The man who was only a silhouette." - Ian Fleming, Moonraker (1955).
  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 9,064MI6 Agent
    I believe K Amis himself discounted that rumour in an interview, prob in the James Bond Fan Club mag in the 1980s if I recall.

    Better get your facts right, SM, or his son will be upon you with vengeance... he's got your number. :D
    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • Silhouette ManSilhouette Man The last refuge of a scoundrelPosts: 7,614MI6 Agent
    I believe K Amis himself discounted that rumour in an interview, prob in the James Bond Fan Club mag in the 1980s if I recall.

    Better get your facts right, SM, or his son will be upon you with vengeance... he's got your number. :D

    Yes, Martin Amis certainly has got my number and famously (to me at least) replied to my article from January 2013 on Kingsley Amis and the Reform of the Action Sequences in the James Bond Films on the very day that it went up. I hope he commments again or asks me over for tea! :)) See here:

    http://www.thebondologistblog.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/kingsley-amis-draxs-gambit-and-reform.html

    I actually have that interview with Amis conducted by Raymond Benson in 1982 for Bondage, the magazine of the American James Bond Fan Club. It's one of the sources for my upcoming blog article. :) -{
    "The tough man of the world. The Secret Agent. The man who was only a silhouette." - Ian Fleming, Moonraker (1955).
  • RevelatorRevelator Posts: 286MI6 Agent
    I actually have that interview with Amis conducted by Raymond Benson in 1982 for Bondage, the magazine of the American James Bond Fan Club. It's one of the sources for my upcoming blog article. :) -{

    I'd love to read that interview.
  • Silhouette ManSilhouette Man The last refuge of a scoundrelPosts: 7,614MI6 Agent
    Revelator wrote:
    I actually have that interview with Amis conducted by Raymond Benson in 1982 for Bondage, the magazine of the American James Bond Fan Club. It's one of the sources for my upcoming blog article. :) -{

    I'd love to read that interview.

    If you wish I could send you a scan of it. Give me a contact email address via PM. :)
    "The tough man of the world. The Secret Agent. The man who was only a silhouette." - Ian Fleming, Moonraker (1955).
  • superadosuperado Regent's Park West (CaliforniaPosts: 2,559MI6 Agent
    I believe K Amis himself discounted that rumour in an interview, prob in the James Bond Fan Club mag in the 1980s if I recall.

    Better get your facts right, SM, or his son will be upon you with vengeance... he's got your number. :D

    Yes, Martin Amis certainly has got my number and famously (to me at least) replied to my article from January 2013 on Kingsley Amis and the Reform of the Action Sequences in the James Bond Films on the very day that it went up. I hope he commments again or asks me over for tea! :)) See here:

    http://www.thebondologistblog.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/kingsley-amis-draxs-gambit-and-reform.html

    I actually have that interview with Amis conducted by Raymond Benson in 1982 for Bondage, the magazine of the American James Bond Fan Club. It's one of the sources for my upcoming blog article. :) -{

    Apologies if I've brought this up before, which I surely have done with some variation, but SM, I must confess I think it was possible that KA did finish TMWTGG because (1) he was given a copy of the unpolished draft for "review," (2) at that point, Amis was a published author and well qualified to provide enough of a polish, perhaps just an adequate amount to still maintain that "it was all Fleming." (3) a ghostwriting arrangement would have stipulated confidentiality, (4) the recounting of events of his "review" in The New Statesman could have been promulgated to ward off ideas of ghostwriting, since points 1 and 2 had the potential of being publicly divulged.

    Are there indications for or against this based on what his son had to say, or from Benson's interview of Amis?

    I don't want to seem like a conspiracy nut, but I just find points 1 and 2 such an incredible convergence of fact, happenstance and opportunity that beg for the possibility of Amis' ghostwriting role for TMWTGG. Also, IMO, I don't think that the staunch "purist," "that's absolutely impossible" and "it was all Fleming" biases of some people (like a certain power-tripping admin at CBN named Dustin 8-) ), have a place in any attempt to rationally examine this phenomenal singularity in the Fleming canon. All I'm after is acceptance of the possibility, however unlikely or remote.
    "...the purposeful slant of his striding figure looked dangerous, as if he was making quickly for something bad that was happening further down the street." -SMERSH on 007 dossier photo, Ch. 6 FRWL.....
  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 31,055Chief of Staff
    Very possible, I'd say. William Plomer (Fleming's editor) has also been suggested as having a hand in "preparing the manuscript", "polishing", etc.

    See also http://www.ajb007.co.uk/topic/30928/the-man-with-the-golden-gun-question/
  • superadosuperado Regent's Park West (CaliforniaPosts: 2,559MI6 Agent
    edited February 2016
    Barbel wrote:
    Very possible, I'd say. William Plomer (Fleming's editor) has also been suggested as having a hand in "preparing the manuscript", "polishing", etc.

    See also http://www.ajb007.co.uk/topic/30928/the-man-with-the-golden-gun-question/

    Thanks, Barbel, I appreciate your objectivity! Thanks too for the link. Yes it seems that this is an occasionally recurring topic. In response to the "no, it was all Fleming" perspective from that older thread, the rewrite and polish process that Fleming undertook was not as simplistic as assumed (there are several recent sources that attest to that) and anything purported by Amis against a more involved role, could possibly be the result of the points 3 & 4 that I posted above. Again, these two points are compelling and obvious conclusions based on my points 1 & 2.

    What I forgot to add regarding Amis' credentials is that, not only was he personally acquainted professionally with Fleming as a writer, but by that point he was already recognized by Fleming's publishers (Jonathan Cape was also his publisher, of which interests related to TMWTGG was represented by Plomer) as a knowledgeable "Flemingologist" ...who happened to be published author.

    What would be the motive? Two come to mind; the desire from the perspective of the publishers to honor a deceased friend and celebrated author with a proper treatment of one of his last works; and of course, profits, from what would otherwise have been wasted without an adequate rewrite and polish.
    "...the purposeful slant of his striding figure looked dangerous, as if he was making quickly for something bad that was happening further down the street." -SMERSH on 007 dossier photo, Ch. 6 FRWL.....
  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 31,055Chief of Staff
    That's a very plausible scenario, supes. It wouldn't have been in anyone's interests (Fleming estate; publishers; Amis) for this to be public knowledge.

    Side note- Conan Doyle turned down at least one collaboration offer on the grounds that his fee would go down by 75% if there was another name beside his.
  • superadosuperado Regent's Park West (CaliforniaPosts: 2,559MI6 Agent
    ...which is why the real Dr. John Watson became a fictionalized character!
    "...the purposeful slant of his striding figure looked dangerous, as if he was making quickly for something bad that was happening further down the street." -SMERSH on 007 dossier photo, Ch. 6 FRWL.....
  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 9,064MI6 Agent
    Interesting thread. But, in another JBBFC piece from the early 80s, there was a feature from someone who examined the original notes of the Fleming novels at a US library, picking up on changes and amendments along the way, early drafts. So surely the inclusion of TMWTGG in the library would address that?

    Of course, without the last novel we have Bond heading out to Soviet Russia, in Bourne Identity mode, ready to be their pawn. A very disturbing finale for a great British hero.
    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • superadosuperado Regent's Park West (CaliforniaPosts: 2,559MI6 Agent
    Interesting thread. But, in another JBBFC piece from the early 80s, there was a feature from someone who examined the original notes of the Fleming novels at a US library, picking up on changes and amendments along the way, early drafts. So surely the inclusion of TMWTGG in the library would address that?

    I'm not sure if it's the same incident, but I read in the CBN Fleming forum that John Cork examined the TMWTGG manuscript(s), which is part of the Ian Fleming collection in the Lilly Library in Indiana, and it was Cork who concluded that the differences were very minor. What I would appreciate seeing is the piece in which Cork says this, and better yet, a fairly detailed analysis of the comparisons made.
    "...the purposeful slant of his striding figure looked dangerous, as if he was making quickly for something bad that was happening further down the street." -SMERSH on 007 dossier photo, Ch. 6 FRWL.....
  • Silhouette ManSilhouette Man The last refuge of a scoundrelPosts: 7,614MI6 Agent
    I stick to my theory that it was only William Plomer that really edited TMWTGG, as was his right as Fleming's editor. I believe this can be proved by way of a letter that Kingsley Amis wrote and by the fact that the content of the novel itself is provably from Fleming's pen. I've sketched out a blog article that will look at this question in more detail and that will try to provide a definitive account of the authorship of the novel.
    "The tough man of the world. The Secret Agent. The man who was only a silhouette." - Ian Fleming, Moonraker (1955).
  • superadosuperado Regent's Park West (CaliforniaPosts: 2,559MI6 Agent
    I stick to my theory that it was only William Plomer that really edited TMWTGG, as was his right as Fleming's editor. I believe this can be proved by way of a letter that Kingsley Amis wrote and by the fact that the content of the novel itself is provably from Fleming's pen. I've sketched out a blog article that will look at this question in more detail and that will try to provide a definitive account of the authorship of the novel.

    I look forward to your article, SM. I don't doubt that much of the novel is from Fleming's pen, but I do question the extent of the edits that were made. As for the statements made by Amis himself, that could be plausibly accounted for by a hypothetical ghostwriting scenario and the confidentiality stipulations of such an arrangement. If it were only Plomer who did any editing, I wonder if he incorporated any of Amis' input, the totality of which we don't really know. For now I can't find what I've previously read about the editing process that a Fleming book underwent, like the number of stages, who gets involved in proofing, etc., and us knowing that process would be very useful; against that, it would also be critical to know at which step Fleming left off (again, I remember reading about this, but cannot find that info for the moment), because depending on the state of the manuscript, a publisher is faced with different options on what to do with it. Giving a decent level of credence to John Cork, we could probably rule out any drastic edit such as the addition of entire sections, but would that rule out any extensive re-wordings of awkwardly written passages?
    "...the purposeful slant of his striding figure looked dangerous, as if he was making quickly for something bad that was happening further down the street." -SMERSH on 007 dossier photo, Ch. 6 FRWL.....
  • ggl007ggl007 SpainPosts: 383MI6 Agent
    According to John Griswold in his Annotations and Chronologies, the Lilly Library does not have a manuscript for TMWTGG.

    He also says that The Letters of Kingsley Amis edited by Zachary Leader contains detailed information about Amis' involvement in a letter to Tom Maschler (editorial director at Jonathan Cape) dated 5th October 1964.

    Could anyone shared it?? :D -{
  • superadosuperado Regent's Park West (CaliforniaPosts: 2,559MI6 Agent
    ggl007 wrote:
    According to John Griswold in his Annotations and Chronologies, the Lilly Library does not have a manuscript for TMWTGG.

    He also says that The Letters of Kingsley Amis edited by Zachary Leader contains detailed information about Amis' involvement in a letter to Tom Maschler (editorial director at Jonathan Cape) dated 5th October 1964.

    Could anyone shared it?? :D -{

    Thanks for confirming, I was too lazy to pull out my own Annotations and Chronologies! I suppose that's the letter SM is referring to and I'd also like to see a copy of it. Not to pe-empt the contents of that letter, but in the event any ghostwriting took place, I doubt that the details of such an arrangement would have been easily divulged unless the letter's recipient was a trusted confidant of Amis. Nonetheless, such info would be valuable to us and would serve as an indicator in whatever form.
    "...the purposeful slant of his striding figure looked dangerous, as if he was making quickly for something bad that was happening further down the street." -SMERSH on 007 dossier photo, Ch. 6 FRWL.....
  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 31,055Chief of Staff
    ggl007 wrote:
    According to John Griswold in his Annotations and Chronologies, the Lilly Library does not have a manuscript for TMWTGG.

    He also says that The Letters of Kingsley Amis edited by Zachary Leader contains detailed information about Amis' involvement in a letter to Tom Maschler (editorial director at Jonathan Cape) dated 5th October 1964.

    Could anyone shared it?? :D -{

    This may be of interest in this context: http://jamesbond.ajb007.co.uk/a-licence-to-read-tmwtgg/
  • superadosuperado Regent's Park West (CaliforniaPosts: 2,559MI6 Agent
    Barbel wrote:
    ggl007 wrote:
    According to John Griswold in his Annotations and Chronologies, the Lilly Library does not have a manuscript for TMWTGG.

    He also says that The Letters of Kingsley Amis edited by Zachary Leader contains detailed information about Amis' involvement in a letter to Tom Maschler (editorial director at Jonathan Cape) dated 5th October 1964.

    Could anyone shared it?? :D -{

    This may be of interest in this context: http://jamesbond.ajb007.co.uk/a-licence-to-read-tmwtgg/

    Thanks, Barbel, I can't recall coming across that article before! Who's the AJB author? I don't think I ever got to read the actual text of that Amis letter, but interestingly what I did read about was what was said in it, particularly the plot holes and Scaramanga's attraction to Bond! Also interesting is how the article (logically) surmises the likelihood of Amis' ghostwriting which is also my position, though I've read counter-arguments based on that very same letter of Amis.
    "...the purposeful slant of his striding figure looked dangerous, as if he was making quickly for something bad that was happening further down the street." -SMERSH on 007 dossier photo, Ch. 6 FRWL.....
  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 31,055Chief of Staff
    It was written by the distinguished scaramanga1, and he covered the whole series- more details below.

    http://jamesbond.ajb007.co.uk/licencetoread/
    http://www.ajb007.co.uk/topic/13716/the-licence-to-read-series-discussion-topic/
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