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Ian Fleming Centenary



Did author Ian Fleming really use the name of a Philadelphian ornithologist named James Bond, the author of one of Fleming’s ‘bibles’ in Jamaica, Birds of the West Indies, or could Fleming also have been influenced subliminally by the writings of the Queen of the whodunits – Agatha Christie? GRAHAM RYE investigates.



After initial investigation of the various major biographies on Fleming and Bond, it appears that no one until now has recorded for posterity the connection between Agatha Christie’s and Ian Fleming’s James Bond!

The Listerdale Mystery is a collection of 12 short stories written by Agatha Christie published in 1934 by Collins for the Crime Club series of books. The penultimate story in this slim volume is entitled The Rajah’s Emerald, and there in the first sentence is – “With a serious effort James Bond bent his attention once more on the little yellow book in his hand.” The definitive proof that a ‘James Bond’ had trod the pages of fiction 19 years earlier than THE James Bond in Ian Fleming’s 1953 novel CASINO ROYALE.

The James Bond character in Agatha Christie’s story is a far cry from Fleming’s creation, and “the little yellow book” carried everywhere by her hero is entitled ‘Do you want your salary increased by £300 per annum?’ which he hopes will help him to “…cultivate a dynamic personality’.

Dame Agatha Christie (1890-1976) The Listerdale Mystery covers
Dame Agatha Christie (1890-1976) The Rajah's Emerald
The Listerdale Mystery Ian Fleming

 Dame Agatha Christie (1890-1976)

The Rajah's Emerald
Ian Fleming (1908-1964)

The story takes place at a fashionable seaside resort in England, where James is vying for the affections of a recently promoted shop-girl named Grace. His rival for her attention is one Claude Sopworth, whom he regards as a “poisonous idiot,” and “a man of no moral worth whatsoever.” It is while in pursuance of ‘keeping up with the Sopworths’ that Christie’s James Bond dons the wrong pair of trousers (Sopworth’s) after a swim and later finds the stolen emerald of the title in the trouser pocket. Suffice to say that James turns the tables on the villain and is duly rewarded by lunching with both Lord Edward Campion and the Rajah of Maraputna. This makes James instantly more attractive to shop-girl Grace than Sopworth, but when she invites James to join her for a trip to the cinema he politely refuses, explaining his prior luncheon engagement. A slight story of one-upmanship and a classic example of 1930’s writing style.

 Ian Fleming (1908-1964)

Ian Fleming’s wry sense humour has been well-documented over the years, making it highly possible that he may well have ‘hoaxed’ everyone and have also been influenced by Agatha Christie’s writing, as her books were bestsellers during his formative years.

How 007 Got His Name - The real James Bond

Ian Fleming Centenary