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Kingsley Amis wasn't the first choise?


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#1 Mr Twilight

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Posted 15 December 2011 - 04:43 PM

Found this lines on Wikipedia;

Following Fleming's death in 1964, Glidrose Productions, publishers of the James Bond novels, planned a new book series, credited to the pseudonym "Robert Markham" and written by a rotating series of authors. After James Leasor declined an offer to write the first continuation novel,[10] the copyright holders commissioned Kingsley Amis.


Post-Fleming James Bond novels

Never heard about this James Leasor before but when reading about him I actually seen the results of his writing before (for example The sea wolves)

James Leasor

If it's true is another story. Anyone heard of it before? Where there others? Opinions?

#2 Dustin

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Posted 15 December 2011 - 05:51 PM

We seem to read the same wiki entries, I also stumbled about that part.

I never before heard about Leasor being approached, neither before Amis/Jenkins nor after, in-between or whatever.

Leasor started his own series in 1964 and the hero, a Judo expert and GP part time working for the Secret Service shows obvious influences by Bond and the heating up spy hype. His first in the series PASSPORT TO OBLIVION apparently was a bestseller from the start and Leasor became a renown name in thrillers of the 60's/70's. It's been speculated that Leasor might have been approached by Glidrose at the time the continuation with Gardner was planned. But before? Right after his first success? Don't know about that, seems perhaps a bit on the strange side a young writer (early forties at the time) would decline the opportunity to pick up what at the time must have looked like the epitome of the superspy thriller genre. All the more so as Leasor apparently was a disciple of the Fleming school, not of the more realistic branch that appeared on the stage with Deighton or leCarré.

Overall I'd say without further proof - sources or verification from the Leasor/Glidrose side - there's nothing to this.

#3 Mr Twilight

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Posted 15 December 2011 - 06:29 PM

Well, i'm forced to agree. I've try to read every single page on internet (well, almost ;) ) and i've found nothing of the same info as the reliable almighty Wikipedia.

#4 glidrose

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Posted 15 December 2011 - 11:17 PM

Overall I'd say without further proof - sources or verification from the Leasor/Glidrose side - there's nothing to this.


The London Times appears to be the source of the information.

Peter Fleming - Ian's older brother - asked Leasor, author of the "Jason Love" novels. Such was Love’s appeal that when Ian Fleming’s estate decided to commission a new Bond novel it was Leasor whom they first approached. When he turned it down, the job went to Amis. Jason Leasor and Peter Fleming knew each other. Leasor gave Peter Fleming's book The Siege at Peking a very kind review in the New York Times in 1959.

It's been speculated that Leasor might have been approached by Glidrose at the time the continuation with Gardner was planned.


No truth to that at all. Gardner's the only writer they approached. Gardner was always (the real) Glidrose's first choice.

#5 Dustin

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Posted 16 December 2011 - 12:19 PM


Overall I'd say without further proof - sources or verification from the Leasor/Glidrose side - there's nothing to this.


The London Times appears to be the source of the information.

Peter Fleming - Ian's older brother - asked Leasor, author of the "Jason Love" novels. Such was Love’s appeal that when Ian Fleming’s estate decided to commission a new Bond novel it was Leasor whom they first approached. When he turned it down, the job went to Amis. Jason Leasor and Peter Fleming knew each other. Leasor gave Peter Fleming's book The Siege at Peking a very kind review in the New York Times in 1959.


Ah, thanks for digging this out. Seems a lot of this continuation affair was happenstance and networking, at least at the time of the old Glidrose. Still, stikes me as odd Leasor didn't go for the chance to continue Bond; his own Dr Jason Love is a character that could well have been thought up by Fleming himself, admirer of classic cars and dangerous assignments, enjoying exotic places and erotic adventures. All of that fairly good fun, perhaps not directly related but at any rate close enough to detect the obvious joy of the adventure the writer and his readers share. Leasor as continuation author is most interesting to speculate about, he seemed to have a natural knack for that kind of adventure.



It's been speculated that Leasor might have been approached by Glidrose at the time the continuation with Gardner was planned.


No truth to that at all. Gardner's the only writer they approached. Gardner was always (the real) Glidrose's first choice.



Why then did John Gardner claim there had been a couple of other writers? I seem to remember that was Gardner's version of events from his own website. It always struck me as odd that he should know about contenders. Why would Glidrose mention this in the first place, hardly flattering to ask somebody to take over and at the same time dropping names that previously or simultanously had been approached. Has it perhaps only been implied by Glidrose and Gardner jumped to conclusions there?

Edited by Dustin, 16 December 2011 - 12:23 PM.


#6 doublenoughtspy

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Posted 16 December 2011 - 08:02 PM

Regarding Gardner, I think what he was trying to say is that he was the only one approached - i.e. number one on the list. And when he said yes, they didn't need the list anymore.

I find it unrealistic to think that they didn't have a list. If they were gearing up for a reboot they wouldn't put all of their eggs in one basket and say "Everything or nothing. Gardner or we don't do it."

I'm a little skeptical of Leasor. I liken it to the Bond role: a single conversation with Cubby Broccoli at a restaurant often becomes "Well you know, I turned down Bond." A conversation is not a screen test or a contract. Just as a lot of people have to sign off on a Bond actor (Producers plural, director, studio execs (plural as well) - I think the same was true for Glidrose. It did have a board of directors.

While Peter Fleming might have known him personally and possibly suggested him, I'm not sure that Peter Janson-Smith, or Anne Fleming would have been on board with Leasor, with only a single book to his credit at the time, taking over the golden goose.

#7 Dustin

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Posted 16 December 2011 - 09:14 PM

I think it's often been stated by the contemporaries that Ann Fleming wasn't too eager to see continuations at all, was particularly sceptical about Amis and apparently downright hated his effort.

I agree that it would seem indeed far more feasible and professional for Glidrose to have a number of candidates to choose from. But it would also seem the term 'professional' wasn't as such a category that governed all of Glidrose's decisions in the way a modern publisher can be expected to.

Now 'list', that could in the context of Glidrose A.D. 1964 probably mean numerous things, from an actual list to a conversation during dinner along the lines of:

A: "Francis?"
B: "Nice fellow, met him last May."
C: "No, definitely not Francis. Can't stand horses. He'd have Bond digging horse manure. How 'bout Deighton?"
D: "Too intellectual. I'd favour Leasor."
A: "Laser? Who's that?"
D: "L E A S O R! Guy who wrote that book, 'Passport to somethingorother', quite amusing, seems to like what Ian did. I could ask him."
A: "One book? Isn't that a bit early?"
C: "I say go with Amis."
D: "That communist? Never! I'll have nothing of it!"
B: "Oh, he isn't a communist."
A: "He didn't vote for the Tories last time, that's for sure."
D: "See?"
B: "What about John Gardner?"
C: "An American? What are you thinking?"
B: "I'm talking about our John Gardner! Who wrote those Boysie Oakes stories."
A: "Ah, yes. I've read one of those. 'twas fun."
D: "Can't we just leave that unsavourily topic until we've finished the meal? I don't like the idea at all!"
C: "What do you say to Pearson?"
D: "Never! Have you read that book of his? About Ian? And all those things he wrote about me! Never! I'd rather have Barbara Cartland write a Bond novel than this Pearson!"
B: "Now that's an idea..."
A: "There's this Higgins..."
B: "Forget him, he's working on a book of his own, something 'bout eagles. Probably left thrillers behind for good. Can't say I blame him, difficult business all that sex and death and spirits."
C: "What about O'Donnell?"
A: "Already asked him last Friday, says he's too busy with his own work."
C: "I'd still go with Amis..."

It would be a kind of list in a somewhat informal manner. And if such conversations take place long enough there's bound to be a leak somewhere that would give a third party the impression there is a lot of activity behind the curtains which in turn could lead to stories about an actual list where there had only been a bit of chatter.

Edited by Dustin, 16 December 2011 - 09:17 PM.


#8 doublenoughtspy

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Posted 16 December 2011 - 09:31 PM

I agree that for a lot of it, the initial overtures especially, were most likely informal.

And yes, everything I've read and heard points to Anne being a stick in the mud and totally against Amis.

But the board could point to a number of positive things: Amis' literary reputation, and the fact that Glidrose had just published not one, but two non-fiction Bond books with him.

When I talked to Peter Janson-Smith about it, while archiving Fleming's papers at the Glidrose/Booker offices, he pointed to the Andrei Gulyashki/Avakum Zakhov stuff as the tipping point with going ahead with the continuation. They were petrified that if they didn't get an official continuation effort out before the spoof one - there would be copyright complications.

#9 Dustin

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Posted 16 December 2011 - 09:40 PM

Isn't it ironic? We may have to thank an unauthorised propaganda spoof from behind the iron curtain for the continuations as we know them, at least until Gardner picked up.

#10 glidrose

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Posted 16 December 2011 - 09:49 PM

Why then did John Gardner claim there had been a couple of other writers? I seem to remember that was Gardner's version of events from his own website. It always struck me as odd that he should know about contenders. Why would Glidrose mention this in the first place, hardly flattering to ask somebody to take over and at the same time dropping names that previously or simultanously had been approached. Has it perhaps only been implied by Glidrose and Gardner jumped to conclusions there?


Glidrose hired well known mystery novelist and crime book critic H.R.F. Keating to draw up a shortlist of six thriller writers. The Glidrose directors read the authors' works and settled on Gardner.

Regarding Gardner, I think what he was trying to say is that he was the only one approached - i.e. number one on the list. And when he said yes, they didn't need the list anymore.

I find it unrealistic to think that they didn't have a list. If they were gearing up for a reboot they wouldn't put all of their eggs in one basket and say "Everything or nothing. Gardner or we don't do it."

I'm a little skeptical of Leasor. I liken it to the Bond role: a single conversation with Cubby Broccoli at a restaurant often becomes "Well you know, I turned down Bond." A conversation is not a screen test or a contract. Just as a lot of people have to sign off on a Bond actor (Producers plural, director, studio execs (plural as well) - I think the same was true for Glidrose. It did have a board of directors.

While Peter Fleming might have known him personally and possibly suggested him, I'm not sure that Peter Janson-Smith, or Anne Fleming would have been on board with Leasor, with only a single book to his credit at the time, taking over the golden goose.


Leasor had at least four novels to his credit and eleven non-fiction titles. Like the Flemings, he was a good old-fashioned Tory (read: conservative). I don't think anybody's suggesting it was anything other than an casual overture. Sound him out. Peter and Ann Fleming weren't comfortable with Amis writing the book. The decision to proceed with a continuation novel was out of their control. Seems likely they'd ask around among their contemporaries in the hope of finding the anti-Amis.

I think it's often been stated by the contemporaries that Ann Fleming wasn't too eager to see continuations at all, was particularly sceptical about Amis and apparently downright hated his effort.

I agree that it would seem indeed far more feasible and professional for Glidrose to have a number of candidates to choose from. But it would also seem the term 'professional' wasn't as such a category that governed all of Glidrose's decisions in the way a modern publisher can be expected to.

Now 'list', that could in the context of Glidrose A.D. 1964 probably mean numerous things, from an actual list to a conversation during dinner along the lines of:

A: "Francis?"
B: "Nice fellow, met him last May."
C: "No, definitely not Francis. Can't stand horses. He'd have Bond digging horse manure. How 'bout Deighton?"
D: "Too intellectual. I'd favour Leasor."
A: "Laser? Who's that?"
D: "L E A S O R! Guy who wrote that book, 'Passport to somethingorother', quite amusing, seems to like what Ian did. I could ask him."
A: "One book? Isn't that a bit early?"
C: "I say go with Amis."
D: "That communist? Never! I'll have nothing of it!"
B: "Oh, he isn't a communist."
A: "He didn't vote for the Tories last time, that's for sure."
D: "See?"
B: "What about John Gardner?"
C: "An American? What are you thinking?"
B: "I'm talking about our John Gardner! Who wrote those Boysie Oakes stories."
A: "Ah, yes. I've read one of those. 'twas fun."
D: "Can't we just leave that unsavourily topic until we've finished the meal? I don't like the idea at all!"
C: "What do you say to Pearson?"
D: "Never! Have you read that book of his? About Ian? And all those things he wrote about me! Never! I'd rather have Barbara Cartland write a Bond novel than this Pearson!"
B: "Now that's an idea..."
A: "There's this Higgins..."
B: "Forget him, he's working on a book of his own, something 'bout eagles. Probably left thrillers behind for good. Can't say I blame him, difficult business all that sex and death and spirits."
C: "What about O'Donnell?"
A: "Already asked him last Friday, says he's too busy with his own work."
C: "I'd still go with Amis..."

It would be a kind of list in a somewhat informal manner. And if such conversations take place long enough there's bound to be a leak somewhere that would give a third party the impression there is a lot of activity behind the curtains which in turn could lead to stories about an actual list where there had only been a bit of chatter.


Hilarious theoretical conversation, and utterly impossible. A continuation wasn't mooted until at least 1965. Pearson's book came out in 1966. Higgins was unknown back then. "The Eagle" wouldn't land until 1975. The American John Gardner published his first novel in 1966 and therefore would have been unknown in Britain and probably everywhere else. Glidrose thought Gardner's Boysie Oakes books were poor. Furthermore, Glidrose had no need for a shortlist in 1966. Jonathan Cape and Booker McConnell were high on Amis. Harry Saltzman was pushing Jenkins at them.

Edited by glidrose, 16 December 2011 - 09:50 PM.


#11 Dustin

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Posted 16 December 2011 - 10:01 PM

Why then did John Gardner claim there had been a couple of other writers? I seem to remember that was Gardner's version of events from his own website. It always struck me as odd that he should know about contenders. Why would Glidrose mention this in the first place, hardly flattering to ask somebody to take over and at the same time dropping names that previously or simultanously had been approached. Has it perhaps only been implied by Glidrose and Gardner jumped to conclusions there?


Glidrose hired well known mystery novelist and crime book critic H.R.F. Keating to draw up a shortlist of six thriller writers. The Glidrose directors read the authors' works and settled on Gardner.


Now that makes a lot more sense, thanks for the info!







Hilarious theoretical conversation, and utterly impossible. A continuation wasn't mooted until at least 1965. Pearson's book came out in 1966. Higgins was unknown back then. "The Eagle" wouldn't land until 1975. The American John Gardner published his first novel in 1966 and therefore would have been unknown in Britain and probably everywhere else. Glidrose thought Gardner's Boysie Oakes books were poor. Furthermore, Glidrose had no need for a shortlist in 1966. Jonathan Cape and Booker McConnell were high on Amis. Harry Saltzman was pushing Jenkins at them.


I know, it wasn't meant as anything but a bit of speculative dialogue. I also mixed up Anne's and Peter's roles and changed my mind midway if the conversation was about the first continuation or the later books, Pearson's included.

#12 doublenoughtspy

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Posted 16 December 2011 - 11:52 PM

Leasor had at least four novels to his credit and eleven non-fiction titles.


Ah, you are right, I was just looking at the Jason Love novels.




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