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Bond, James Bond, a man feared by villains around the world – but he was almost a spy bad guys would have laughed at thanks to an error by the novelist who created him.

That’s the news which has been making headlines now that the latest Bond film has been released. In the wake of SPECTRE’s cinema release, previously unseen private letters between novelist Ian Fleming and his fans have revealed how the first draft of the first Bond story saw the spy given a signature weapon, which at the time was a gun used predominantly by women.

The letters have been collected and edited by Fleming’s nephew and show how fans wrote to the writer to protest about everything from the “ladylike gun” to a stolen name. Now a book revealing how Fleming’s fans helped shape Bond is set to be released.

Fleming ended up engaged in letter writing exchanges with the wife of an American ornithologist named James Bond over whether he should continue using the name for his character, as well as an exchange with Noel Coward over a statement in Dr No, where Fleming incorrectly stated the time difference between the UK and Jamaica.

Probably the exchange which had the most effect on Fleming’s portrayal of Bond came in 1956, when gun specialist Geoffrey Boothroyd wrote to him. He wrote how he had become fond of Bond but found it difficult to imagine the spy using a .25 Beretta.

Boothroyd told Fleming Bond’s choice of weapon showed a “rather deplorable taste in firearms” and that the Beretta was “a lady’s gun, and not a really nice lady at that”.

Incredibly, the pair ended up exchanging a number of letters which led not only to Fleming arming Bond with a Smith & Wesson .38 Special Centennial Airweight revolver instead, but also to Boothroyd working as a weapons adviser on the set of the film adaptation of Dr No.

Bond would famously end up using the Walther PPK as his weapon of choice in the majority of the films.

The book, The Man With The Golden Typewriter: Ian Fleming’s James Bond Letters, edited by Fergus Fleming, will be published on October 8.

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