Born into the elite, Ann Fleming, born Charteris, married rich men. Photograph: © The Sotheby’s Cecil Beaton Studio Collection
Over 160 letters written over 20 years shed light on the life of author James Bond
An incredible cache of letters shining a light on the tangled relationship between the James Bond creator, Ian Fleming, and his wife, Ann, will appear at the auction from their deep and secret affair to the bitter end of their marriage.
Sotheby’s sells more than 160 letters written over 20 years between the couple. Gabriel Heaton, an auction house specialist in books and manuscripts said the letters in their scope and scale provided what “must surely be an unmatchable record of the life of the author as his fortunes changed”.
I also give insight into Bond’s rise Heaton said it was no coincidence that Fleming wrote his first Bond novel, Casino Royale, in the year of his marriage.

Ian Fleming had several flings and other women’s affairs. Photo: Sotheby’s Cecil Beaton Studio Archive
It was “as an outlet for his libido and imagination as well as an attempt to make money for a woman who was used to becoming unthinkingly wealthy.”

Born in the aristocracy, Ann Fleming, born Charteris, married wealthy men. Her first husband was Shane O’Neill, O’Neill’s 3rd Baron. She married the newspaper magnate Esmond Harmsworth, the 2nd Viscount Rothermere, following his death in military action in 1944. She and Fleming were lovers during both marriages, an intimate relationship with sado-masochistic elements. “I long for you even if you whip me because I love being hurt by you and kissed afterwards,” Ann once wrote to Fleming.
Ann was pregnant with the baby of Fleming in 1948, a girl who was premature for a month and only lived for eight hours. The collection includes a number of sad and gentle letters written on Gleneagles stationery by Fleming shortly after playing golf with the cuckolded husband, Rothermere.

There are more than 500 typed and handwritten pages in the letters, at least three written on book-torn endpapers. On the back of a gin rummy card and a hospital temperature chart were written two of Ann’s letters.
They will be sold between December 3 and 10 in Sotheby’s online literature sale and come with an estimated £ 200,000-300,000.
Keeping them together was important Heaton stated. “They are much more than the sum of their parts, the correspondence as a whole is far more substantial and interesting and revealing and exciting than simply an accumulation of individual letters.”


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