Ian Fleming Original Manuscripts on Display

Live And Let Die

Ian Fleming carefully kept the original manuscripts for his James Bond thrillers, in addition to pre-publication book proofs and author’s copies that include summary notes in his own handwriting. For researchers and fans, these represent incredible views into the origins of the 007 character and the mind of his fascinating creator.

A sampling from among these one-of-a-kind texts will be displayed as part of the Bond Watches, James Bond Watches exhibit at the National Watch & Clock Museum, opening June 17, 2010. This loan was made possible by special arrangement with the Lilly Library at Indiana University, Bloomington, IN.

“We can tell a lot by looking at the actual pages as Mr. Fleming hammered them out at the keys of his Imperial portable typewriter,” notes Dell Deaton of JamesBondWatches.com and guest curator for the Bond Watches exhibit. “The ‘Rolex’ reference in Live and Let Die, for example, is first-draft.

"On Her Majesty's Secret Service," as bound by Ian Fleming

That, then, specifically dates it to February or March of 1953 — and establishes a context for examining the role that his friend Commander Jacques Cousteau may have had in providing input on the brand.

Thunderball, of course, shows how Ian Fleming created the first Bond gadget-watch, in 1960.

“There’s also what we can see as iterations progress. This National Watch & Clock Museum display, for example, will include three versions of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service that reveal Fleming’s interesting focus on wristwatch-related details,” Deaton continues. “There’s a curious continuity error that started with the manuscript when it was written at Goldeneye and made it all the way to the ‘Uncorrected Proof’ binding, but which was caught and corrected before the first edition book run and serialized publication in Playboy. We’re planning to show this complete progression as part of this special exhibit.”

The original James Bond manuscripts, author’s first editions, and other materials were acquired by the Lilly Library in 1970. Thus, the Bond Watches, James Bond Watches exhibit will mark the first time in four decades that the original 007 wristwatch (Ian Fleming’s Rolex 1016 Explorer) and the 1962 manuscript in which it is referenced will be displayed together.

“The National Watch & Clock Museum is extremely grateful to Indiana University and its Lilly Library for the loan of these materials,” Museum Director Noel Poirier adds. “Through the years, we’ve been able to enter into cooperative exchanges such as this with a variety of other institutions, expanding the reach in sharing what we’ve preserved from the history of timekeeping. It allows us to broaden the context of exhibits such as this, showing not just the watches, but the culture and period in which they were important.”

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