An original manuscript by James Bond author, Ian Fleming, has been discovered at his publisher’s during an office move.
The manuscript, “Never Say Die Again, Again”, tells the story of Russian-born Zhanna brought up in England by her parents, both Russian sleeper agents, under the assumed name of Bond.
Jane, the English equivalent of Zhanna, never knew her true origin and was brought up as a typical English girl. While at finishing school in Switzerland, her parents were ‘woken up’ and sent on a mission during which they died.
Jane never forgave the Russian government, joined the UK military and later the secret service. It becomes clear throughout the novel that Jane was also bisexual.
Jane’s combination of toughness, desire for revenge, femininity and bisexuality gave her many advantages over her opponents, advantages that Fleming delighted in writing about.
The manuscript is covered with copious notes by Fleming’s then publisher who made several suggestions. The three main ones were, in true British fashion, to drop the revenge theme in case it upset the Russians as the cold war was in full swing.
The second was to drop the bisexuality. “We are British, after all,” the note said. The third was to make the character male as readers would never identify with a female who was as clever, strong and ruthless as a male and who used her powers of seduction to achieve her ends.
A note from Fleming, who died in 1964, attached to the manuscript showed that he disagreed on all points but he agreed to write another novel about a male secret service agent. That turned out to be Casino Royale featuring James Bond.
A spokesperson for Fleming’s publisher who discovered the manuscript said: “Fleming was way ahead of his time with this one, on all accounts. But there’s still only one James Bond.”