James Bond creator Ian Fleming’s estate last night sensationally claimed he would sanction the rewriting of his famously politically incorrect novels.
His postwar series of spy novels are littered with misogynistic and racist references which have fallen foul of the sensitivity police.
Although he died in 1964 aged 56 his estate said the decision to rewrite his cache of novels was made with “guidance from the author himself”, citing Fleming’s previous thoughts on making such revisions.
His books, the first of which was Casino Royale published in 1953, paved the way for the 007 secret agent to move to the big screen and become one of the biggest film franchises in history.
Since Dr No marked the agent’s silver screen debut in 1962, the spy has been played by actors Sean Connery, Roger Moore, George Lazenby, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig.
Fleming’s estate noted the Eton-educated author had been in full support of Al Hart – editor at his US publisher Macmillan – when it was suggested some passages be cut or amended from Fleming’s 1954 book Live and Let Die ahead of its US publication a year later.
The statement said that “the world was a very different place than it is now” when Fleming sat down to write his second James Bond novel.
It added: “Some of these corrected minor factual errors. Others deleted or changed passages or words [Hart] felt were racially troubling, even then.
“Fleming approved all the changes and the version of Live and Let Die in America was therefore different from the British edition, and from his letters, it seems Fleming preferred the US version.”
All of the author’s thrillers featuring 007 are set to be reissued in April to mark 70 years since Casino Royale, the first book in the series, was published.
Ian Fleming Publications Ltd, the company that owns the literary rights to the author’s work, commissioned a review of the classic texts under its control and decided to make a slew of changes to bring his work in line with accepted thinking on social morals, values, and standards.